Presentation on Harbor Island redevelopment postponed until February

Will port district finally be able to come to terms with new hotel project near Sunroad Marina?

SAN DIEGO—What a redeveloped stretch of Harbor Island would look like won’t be revealed until at least February, as the Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners postponed its discussion on an ambitious hotel development near Sunroad Marina. The Harbor Island hotel redevelopment project was supposed to be vetted out on Jan. 16, but commissioners agreed to reschedule the discussion for Feb. 12, which is the next commission meeting.

Commissioners hope to have a full board at next month’s meeting; Commissioner Robert “Dukie” Valderrama was not present on Jan. 16.

Port district officials and Sunroad Enterprises – the team proposing to develop the eastern portion of Harbor Island with a large hotel project – have been going back and forth on redevelopment plans since April 1, 2017, when an exclusive negotiating agreement, or ENA, went into effect for both parties.

The ENA has since been extended six times – three times in 2017 and three more times in 2018. Along the way there were several meetings, board presentations and plan submittals.

Sunroad’s initial submittals, according to port district staff, called for “a two-phased, dual-branded, 500 room hotel with the first phase comprised of 325 rooms and the second phase comprised of 175 rooms.”

Separating the hotel development into phases proved to be a sticking point for the port district, and the California Coastal Commission added a Port Master Plan Amendment might be required for the project.

Port district staff and Sunroad have since been trying to craft a new proposal to limit phasing of the project and satisfy concerns expressed by the Coastal Commission.

“Sunroad’s proposed development does not address all of the board’s and staff’s concerns discussed to date,” port district staff stated in a report to commissioners. “However, staff believes there is a path to achieving the mutual goals of the [port] district and Sunroad through an amendment of the Sunroad ENA.”

Board members and port staff are considering the following changes:

  • Build a 400- to 500-room hotel in one phase
  • Build one or two hotel buildings with contrasting scale and massing
  • Integrate parking into the project in such a way a structure or lot won’t look unappealing
  • Create “mini destination areas” throughout the to-be-developed property
  • Bring an upper-upscale or upscale hotel brand to the site.

Delaying the presentation on the future of Sunroad’s development plans for Harbor Island’s “eastern elbow parcel” means Sunroad’s ENA must be extended once again. The ENA was set to expire Jan. 25, which is a little more than two weeks before the Feb. 12 Port of San Diego board meeting.

Commissioners will be expected to give feedback on the project at the Feb. 12 meeting and provide port district staff with direction to negotiate an amendment to the Sunroad ENA. Sunroad would then have to submit new plans within 120 days and the proposal would have to include plans to build the hotel project in one phase, ensure contrasting scaling and massing, and minimize the visibility of a parking structure/lot. Plans to pursue a high-end hotel brand and include mini destination areas on-site would also have to be included in Sunroad’s updated proposal.

Ann Moore, who was recently sworn-in as the board’s vice chair, expressed frustration about how many times the commission and port district staff has delayed discussions on Sunroad’s plans.

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