County Breaks Ground for New Civic Treasure

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September 25, 2012 | 12:57pm

A dream more than 100 years in the making is coming true in downtown San Diego. County Supervisors broke ground Tuesday on a spectacular new waterfront park that will enhance what some call our Jewel on the Bay, the historic County Administration Center.

“Back in 1908, city planner John Nolen envisioned a bay front civic center surrounded by parkland which would link to Balboa Park with a grand promenade,” said Board Chairman Ron Roberts. “The link didn’t go through, but the 16-acre civic center site came to pass with our County Administration Center and now we’re taking the first steps to encircle that historic treasure with a beautiful park that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”  

“The waterfront park complements the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan to showcase our beautiful San Diego Bay and allow the public to enjoy all it has to offer,” said Vice Chairman Greg Cox. “Our waterfront has the potential to mirror that of other world-class waterfronts such as San Francisco, Vancouver and Barcelona.”

"This park will be a new gem on our waterfront, and we're paying for it in a way that safeguards public dollars," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "About a third of the $46.5 million cost will be paid in cash. The rest will come from bonds financed at a low interest rate, thanks to the county's strong credit rating."

“The project will include an 830-foot long fountain. Water jets will shoot water 14 feet into the air and back down into a one-inch deep splash area for children,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “Families and other visitors will be able to enjoy picnics, stroll along the promenade, explore theme gardens and listen to outdoor concerts while looking out over the Star of India and the waters of San Diego Bay. This is a major visual, leisure and economic benefit for San Diego County.”

“I was born on the corner of 2nd & Elm and spent my childhood on the waterfront with my uncle, a tuna fisherman,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “It will be great to see new generations of San Diegans making their own childhood memories by the water.” 

Tuesday’s groundbreaking leads to the first step in the project, tearing up a surface parking lot to construct an underground public parking garage on the building’s south side with 250 spaces. An expansive green lawn will top the garage. Meantime, residents who have business at the County Administration Center won’t have to worry about finding a place to park. Public parking will still be available on the north side during this first stage of construction. The parking garage is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013. The overall park is due for completion in late spring of 2014. 
 

Video: Former health building is demolished to make way for Waterfront Park