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Design Unveiled For Proposed Convention Center Expansion

An artist's rendering illustrates the plans for expanding the Convention Cent...

Credit: Courtesy of the San Diego Convention Center

Above: An artist's rendering illustrates the plans for expanding the Convention Center, including a five-acre rooftop park.

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San Diego city leaders hope an architect’s proposal to build a public park on the roof will generate support for a planned expansion of the downtown Convention Center. It is still unclear how the $700 million project will be paid for.

San Diego city leaders hope an architect’s proposal to build a public park on the roof will generate support for a planned expansion of the downtown Convention Center. It is still unclear how the $700 million project will be paid for.

The architect’s drawings show a sweep of green park land on top of a long low building stretching south of the existing convention center. The location would have views of San Diego Bay and downtown.

Convention Center board chair, Bob Nelson, said the Denver-based architect, Curt Fentress, beat out the competition with a cost effective design that is a win-win for San Diegans and visitors.

“This design does more than open and energize the waterfront for all San Diegans,” he said, “the Fentress design significantly enhances San Diego’s ability to compete for those conventions that offer taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck.”

Nelson said the expansion could generate $17 million a year in sales tax and TOT for the city.

San Diego Mayor, Jerry Sanders, who has championed the proposed expansion, called it a giant economic generator for the region,

“The team’s design, which we’re unveiling today for the first time, builds on the success of our iconic facility,” he said, “It embraces the water front location with a five acre park and rooftop performance venue, while delivering an expanded facility that will help generate jobs and build on our reputation as a world class convention and meeting destination.”

Sanders said the extra tax revenues would help pay for police and fire services. He has given Port Commissioner Steve Cushman the task of putting together a financing plan to pay for the expansion without using public money. Cushman says he is working on it.

“We hope to have those answers by the first quarter of next year,” he said. “Two weeks ago I was not encouraged, but now that we have this magnificent design, it does make my job easier.”.

Cushman says he’s looking for commitments from the hotel and restaurant industries, as well as taxi cab companies and the Port District.

The city of San Diego is looking to refinance $163 million in bonds outstanding that were sold to build the existing convention center.

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