San Diego Shoreline to Transform with New Entertainment District on East Harbor Island

San Diego Shoreline to Transform with New Entertainment District on East Harbor IslandSource: Port of San Diego
Ben J. Costas
Published on December 08, 2023

San Diego's shoreline is set for a major makeover, with the Board of Port Commissioners giving the green light to create an entertainment district on East Harbor Island. The planned development, poised to level up the waterfront experience, includes an anchor venue by sports entertainment company Topgolf, in line with the Port's agenda to bump up public access and recreation in the area. Other additions in the mix are a diverse array of “eatertainment” outlets offering activities fused with dining options aimed to throttle the leisure pulse of visitors and locals alike, per the Port of San Diego press release.

"This is an exciting redevelopment strategy to bring people to the bayfront to enjoy it and the beautiful views, which is a major part of what the Port is charged to do," Chairman Rafael Castellanos of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners mentioned. Acknowledging the surge of public interest in such projects, the Board looks forward to injecting a variety of activities catering to a wide range of budgets. The proposed development spans a robust 43-acre plot, with a slice dedicated to waterfront parks and promenades, adding to the existing Harbor Island public spaces. The proposition also sees the inclusion of infrastructure to support these buzzworthy ventures. Currently, the field is occupied by rental car outfits that offer scant public facilities.

Port authorities are ticking the boxes to get the gears in motion, plotting to roll out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) by early 2024, setting the stage for potential operators to pitch their visions. The Port officials expect to reconvene with recommendations by the third quarter of the following year. Additionally, the Port is also batting for Topgolf, having authorized a term sheet that sketches out the blueprint for a potential lease deal that could span an expansive 20 years, with options to renew. The initial annual rent post-construction is pegged at approximately $1.5 million, signaling a windfall of $1.9 million once operations are in full swing, as pointed out by the Port of San Diego in a press release.

The entailed environmental reviews for the Topgolf venture kicked off with a public scoping meeting that was recently orchestrated, and the ensuing stages involve the public eyeing the Draft Environmental Impact Report set for circulation in the first half of 2024. The paces include Board approval of a lease option in later months and wrapping up with requisite planning amendments and development permits teed up for 2025.