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North Embarcadero visionary plan comes to life

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SAN DIEGO – The North Embarcadero Visionary Plan came to life in downtown San Diego Saturday afternoon.

After three years in the making, phase one of the waterfront beautification project is now open to the public.

The project is a joint effort by the port and city of San Diego to improve the bayfront between the B Street Pier and Navy Pier.

“The port is owned by the people of California and we’re dedicated to making sure they can enjoy the property they own and enjoy the water," said Port of San Diego Commission Chairman Bob Nelson.

Among the many changes visitors will notice along the Broadway Pier are history markers embedded in the sidewalks and new chairs and umbrellas for use when cruise ships aren't docked.

The walking area beside the water was widened to 105 feet and lined with jacaranda trees. A restaurant building was constructed, with a tenant expected to open for business next year, according to the port.

The project also included infrastructure upgrades like better drainage, repaired roadways and improved utility services.

“Most people don’t understand how historical San Diego is," Nelson said. "We’re part of the American origin story. Juan Cabrillo landed here in 1542. That’s way before anyone landed from Europe on the east coast of the United States."

Tourists and residents said they enjoyed reading the new history markers.

“It was interesting just to read about this history of the waterfront and how San Diego Bay developed,” said San Diegan Janet Collins.

The area will continue to develop thanks to a $31.2 million investment split between the city and the port.

The city is footing half of the bill with redevelopment funds, while the port is picking up the other half of the tab.

“The next phases will go down a total of about 1.2 miles,” Nelson said. “Also, because our partners in this project are the city of San Diego, we’re going up Broadway.”

But for now, the area is worth celebrating to those who attended the free festival to mark its opening.

They enjoyed music, food and incredible views -- some from above during a zip line ride.

Some attendees said they even detoured from original plans to attend the free event.

“We were actually headed over to Coronado and saw the festivities and stopped in and it’s a nice little celebration,” said tourist Dave Garrison.