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First Phase Of Embarcadero Makeover Gets Final Approval

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Aired 4/14/11

Today, San Diego’s downtown waterfront consists mostly of concrete and traffic. But in two years it could look a lot different.

— New parks, wider walkways and public art will grace the San Diego bayfront near the intersection of Broadway and Harbor Drive. The project has been in the works for more than 10 years. It received final approval from the California Coastal Commission Wednesday.

A rendering of Phase 1 of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan. The project was given final approval by the Coastal Commission on April 13, 2011.
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Above: A rendering of Phase 1 of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan. The project was given final approval by the Coastal Commission on April 13, 2011.

The Embarcadero project had most recently been held up by a dispute over a park at the foot of the Broadway Pier. But the Port of San Diego and public-space advocates agreed on another location. Port Commission Lee Burdick said turnover at the Port in the last few years helped move the project along.

“We have done virtually everything in a more timely and efficient manner over the course of the last year to make sure that we have engaged the public in an expansive way, in a constructive way and that we have heard them,” she said.

The final version of the project also has the support of Port critics. Cory Briggs is an attorney for the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, a group that had opposed earlier versions of the plan.

“We shouldn’t let our desire to achieve perfection become the enemy of the good,” he said. “And I think what you have here today is a project that’s actually better than good, it’s just pretty darn good.”

The Port plans to break ground on the $28 million project in November. The city’s Redevelopment Agency will initially put up all of the money and the Port will pay back half, or $14 million, to the agency over time. Port officials were concerned that Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies in California could jeopardize the funding for the project. But a Port spokesman said having the approval of the Coastal Commission and the San Diego City Council puts the project on firmer ground.

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