Byline: Taylor Hill
SAN DIEGO — While a portion of the once-famous Kettenburg Boatworks site along Shelter Island Drive has been set aside for a 36-unit townhome project, the waterfront segment will remain boating-related: Driscoll Boat Works began construction in February on Intrepid Landing.
To be constructed over the next three years, in three phases, the project includes a waterfront promenade, a 26-slip marina with 10 side-ties for boats ranging from 30 to 200 feet in length, a 50,000-square-foot boatyard and dry storage area, and marine-related office and commercial buildings — and there are tentative plans for a high-end restaurant.
“We’re obviously extremely excited about the project, which has been in the works for several years,” said Tom Driscoll, partner of Driscoll Inc. with his brother, Chuck Driscoll. “After getting the Port Master Plan amendment and public input, it’s nice to see we’re going to be starting work.”
The plan was originally conceived by Tom and his father, the late Gerry Driscoll. Gerry Driscoll originally started working in San Diego Bay in 1947, founding a boatyard repair and maintenance facility. The new project, Intrepid Landing, is named after the boat Gerry Driscoll skippered in the 1973-74 America’s Cup campaign.
“Dad and I had been working on getting development plans approved and environmental issues resolved for this project since the last America’s Cup held in San Diego in 1995,” Tom said. “Unfortunately, it all came together about the time of Dad’s passing in March 2011.”
Driscoll Inc. took control of the property in the 1990s following bankruptcy issues plaguing the 80-year-old Kettenburg site. The land was then divided into two portions: city-owned land not connected to the water, and Port of San Diego-controlled land where the Driscoll family has planned their project.
“Along with my brother Chuck and our other partner, United Development Group Inc., we are moving forward and finally making Gerry’s dream become a reality,” Tom said. “The three of us could not think of a better way to honor Gerry than seeing this project come to fruition.”
The “uphill” Kettenburg properties on city land were sold and have been designated for a controversial townhome project that required a land-use designation change from the Coastal Commission last year — changing the site from Industrial (commercial fishing/marina-related) to Commercial/Recreational. The 1.65-acre mixed-use development will feature commercial operations on the bottom floor, with 36 townhomes built on top that overlook the boatyard facility and marina planned by the Driscolls.
The townhome site is bounded by Carleton, Scott and Dickens streets, adjacent to Intrepid Landing. The site no longer has direct access to America’s Cup Harbor, which was seen as another reason to redesignate the area from industrial to commercial use.
“We’re not in favor of that project, and we certainly don’t want condos next to the boatyard,” Tom said. “It started out as a compromise, but it ended up being just this massive thing, and the marine-related concepts were changed to basically a total residential facility.”
The site for Intrepid Landing — currently a flat dirt patch along the waterfront of America’s Cup Harbor — is being graded for the project’s first phase. It will include construction of a waterfront promenade that will complete the public walkway around the harbor, connecting Point Loma Seafoods on the project’s north side to Shelter Island Drive along the property’s south edge.
According to Driscoll Inc. director of operations Mike Benedict, the docks are on order and should be ready for use at the marina by the end of summer. The aluminum docks will be outfitted with recycled composite decking, and the marina will include contemporary shore power and cable hookups for high-speed Internet and television.
“We will revitalize an 80-year-old, fallen-down boatyard site and make it an asset to our community,” Benedict said. “We live and recreate here also, so we have a stake in the community.”
Phases 2 and 3, which include the commercial and marine retail building construction and boatyard facility, could begin construction in late 2012 or early 2013. Seattle-based architecture firm Miller/Hull, which designed Pier 32 Marina in National City, has designed the buildings for Intrepid Landing.
The planned 50,000-square-foot boatyard and storage facility will focus on “dry berthing,” where Driscoll Inc. expects to store 40 to 60 boats at ground level, with some smaller vessels being stacked at the facility, depending on the demand. Tom Driscoll expects the boats stored at the site to be in the 30- to 50-foot range.
“With the environmental issues associated with bottom paints, we’ve had interest from (owners of) racing sailboats to have their bottom paint taken off, and have them dry-sailed,” Tom said. “I’m excited about that. Something we need in the area is a facility focused on dry berthing of all types — powerboats, as well.”