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Chula Vista Looks For Bayfront Investors In China

Aired 9/27/12 on KPBS News.

Chula Vista and the port authority officials visit China to drum up financing for a $2 billion bay-front redevelopment.

— Chula Vista officials need $2 billion over 20 years to redevelop their bay front. And the city has gone shopping for that investment in China.

A satellite map of a proposed redevelopment project on the Chula Vista bayfront.
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Above: A satellite map of a proposed redevelopment project on the Chula Vista bayfront.

Four people visited China this month in search of the $2 billion they'll need over 20 years to turn the Chula Vista waterfront into a destination for shopping, living and conventions. The "trade delegation" included the Chula Vista city manager and the executive director of the Port of San Diego.

The bay-front redevelopment plan has been approved by the California Coastal Commission. The plan includes three hotels, a conference center, condos and retail on 560 acres.

Now the City of Chula Vista needs to make it happen.

During the trip to China, city and port officials met with private and government investors. Jim Sandoval, the city manager, said one great source of funds is the Chinese government surplus.

"They are sitting on a multi-trillion dollar reserve," said Sandoval. "From what we can tell, the discussions we had, they have not done all that much investment in the U.S. yet, and they seem really interested in doing that."

Sandoval says Chula Vista didn't get any financial commitments. But there's more lobbying to be done, and the Chula Vista project does have something going for it.

"There's a certain caché anywhere in the world to developing in California. It's almost iconic California to most places," said Sandoval, who added that California coastline has become a rare commodity for developers.

A port authority spokesperson said the trip, for four people, cost just under $22,000.

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