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Chula Vista, Port of San Diego break ground on first Bayfront park

The city of Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego broke ground Tuesday on a 21-acre park along San Diego Bay. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen says it’s the first park space completed as part of the Chula Vista Bayfront redevelopment.

Port and city officials broke ground Tuesday on the $19.7 million Sweetwater Park in Chula Vista, the first park space completed as part of the Chula Vista Bayfront redevelopment and the port's 23rd park along San Diego Bay.

The 21-acre park is being built near E Street and Bay Boulevard just north of the Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center where construction is also underway.

The groundbreaking was more than 20 years in the making.


“It's so exciting. This is really an exciting day,” Port of San Diego Commissioner Ann Moore said. She was instrumental in getting the park built, having been working on this project since she was Chula Vista City Attorney more than 20 years ago.

“We really wanted to create a vision that involved the whole community," Moore said. "So we wanted to make sure that we had everybody involved from the very beginning of this project to be part of the vision.”

Sweetwater Park is "envisioned as a natural-habitat oriented recreational open space to showcase the unique natural wildlife assets of San Diego Bay, encouraging passive recreation activities to complement the adjacent Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge," a port statement reads. The port and city used local input on the park's design.

Features, when the park is complete, will include meadows and specialty gardens, nature playgrounds, seating and picnic areas, pedestrian walkways and bike paths — in addition to the Sweetwater Bicycle and Pedestrian Path that was built and opened in the spring of 2021 — sand dunes, scenic overlooks, incorporation of Kumeyaay signage, public art, public restrooms and 216 parking spaces.

“Stroll through this park. What do you see? You see meadows, you see grasslands, you see sand dunes, picnic areas, and, of course, overlooks so you can take in the beautiful vistas of the bay," Port of San Diego Chair Rafael Castellanos said. "It is going to be something incredible.”


Landscape architecture firm KTUA led the design effort for Sweetwater Park in collaboration with the port. The firm was selected for its "extensive urban park and waterfront design expertise — with an emphasis on local landscape architecture and natural resource management experience," the port statement read.

Part of the cost for the park will be funded by a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the National Parks Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

The 535-acre Chula Vista Bayfront redevelopment "envisions a world- class destination in the South Bay — a unique place for people to live, work and play," according to the port. The city of Chula Vista broke ground on the Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center in July 2022, a $1.35 billion project scheduled to open in 2025.

With several projects in the works for the Bayfront, Chula Vista Mayor John McCann said they’re expected to create thousands of jobs and jumpstart the economy for the western side of the city.

“It's going to help elevate and upgrade the older community where I grew up," he said. "And we always wanted to have public access, and we always wanted to have newer things. Now we're making that a reality.”

The overall Bayfront master plan calls for more than 200 acres of parks, open space, a shoreline promenade, walking trails, RV camping, shopping and dining. Projects within the master plan are also intended to establish ecological buffers to protect wildlife habitat, species and other coastal resources.

Sweetwater Park is expected to be completed in late 2024. For more information about the Chula Vista Bayfront, visit