Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Plans to expand San Diego’s Convention Center took a major step forward today. San Diego Port Commissioners approved the lease of six acres of waterfront property.
SAN DIEGO Plans to expand San Diego’s Convention Center took a major step forward today. San Diego Port Commissioners approved the lease of six acres of waterfront property.
The Convention Center Corporation will pay $13.5 million for the narrow strip of land between the existing Convention Center and San Diego Bay.
Mayor Jerry Sanders formed a task force, which estimated the expansion would cost more than $750 million.
Sanders says no taxpayer money will be used to pay for the expansion, but he said the city would benefit from increased hotel and sales taxes when more conferences come to town.
"Comic Con -- and I wanted Spiderman here today but he couldn’t make it -- is the most prominent example of the events we risk losing because we’ve outgrown our Convention Center," Sanders said. "With today’s approval of the land agreement, we’ll be able to move forward to the next stage of our planning and financing for the expansion."
Bob Nelson, chair of the Convention Center Corporation, said the expansion could generate economic activity that would create another 7,000 jobs. He said he hopes to break ground in 2012.
He said expansion plans should not affect the Summer Pops and other concerts currently held in Marina Park, though events may be affected during construction.
Critics question signing a lease when environmental permits for the expansion have not yet been granted. Provisions in the lease would allow the Convention Center Corporation to back out halfway through the lease if things don’t work out.
Port Commissioner Steve Cushman promised public review of all expansion plans.