SAN DIEGO — The Port of San Diego has voted unanimously to terminate the Navy’s leasehold on a Pacific Highway Property. The Port and Navy had been in negotiation for decades to finalize the deal, with the Navy agreeing to vacate.
“Now is the right time to get back this land,” said Rafael Castellanos, the Port of San Diego Chairman.
After decades-long of negotiations, the Port of San Diego voted to reclaim 3.4 acres (about half the area of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool) of Pacific Highway from the Navy.
The vote passed unanimously across the Port of San Diego board.
In 1949, the City of San Diego leased 1220 Pacific Highway to the Navy free of charge for 100 years. Discussions began in 2000 when the Port requested the land back from the Navy for redevelopment.
The Port and the Navy started negotiating on how to execute a 1985 law, Public Law 98-407, that allowed the Navy out of their lease early, if the Port provided a suitable replacement.
“Timing, timing timing. I think all of the right people in all of the right places, and a real sense of momentum to get it done,” Castellanos said about what made them come to an agreement with the Navy.
The Navy said they are happily on board because it meets their requirements, and they want to support the Port’s goals.
“This is an agreement that we really feel from the Navy’s perspective underscores this very strong relationship that we have with the Port of San Diego and our larger relationship that we have with the city of San Diego,” said Caitlin Ostomel, a Navy spokesperson.
The property sits between the Wyndham San Diego Bayfront Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel.
The low-rise one- and two-story buildings are home to office spaces, that are used for general administrate space.
Per the agreement, the Port of San Diego will give $5.75 million for a new Navy facility or support services.
“I have a lot of optimism on where we are going to go with this,” Ostomel said.
The Navy will have up to four years to vacate. In the meantime, the Navy will explore project options for the Port to pay for while the Port of San Diego will start brainstorming redevelopment plans.
“So, it’s not like anyone has to move out, we have some time built into the agreement and it’s been a really good final decision for us,” Ostomel said.
“This is the people’s land, and so when we can activate for all the people, and not just have closed off like it is now, for a secure use, that is good for the public,” Castellanos added.
The Port of San Diego is looking to revamp the space into more parks, hotels and even retail spaces. The Port of San Diego said the Lane Field Team– which are developers of the site that includes Lane Field Park, the Intercontinental, and the SpringHill Suites — have the first right to negotiate with the Port of San Diego, who will approve or disapprove.
The Port of San Diego will also pay for the demolition of the Navy buildings on the Pacific Highway property.