Portman’s Hotel-Centric Development Creates Waterfront Destination With Open Public Spaces
A dual-branded Marriott International hotel, which includes a 253-key Springhill Suites and 147-key Residence Inn known as BRIC 1, recently opened in Downtown San Diego on the bayfront. This project will soon be joined to BRIC 2, a $217M, five-star, IGH InterContinental Hotel & Resort next door.
“These projects are bigger than just hotels,” says Portman Holdings SVP Thomas DeSousa, who was among the panelists at Bisnow's San Diego Hotel Development Takeoff on Aug. 18. A JV of his company and locally based Lankford & Associates and Hensel Phelps Construction is developing the two-phase BRIC, a hotel-centric mixed-use project, so named for its location at the intersection of Broadway and Pacific Highway. Shown above is Thomas, far right, on vacation with his daughter, Megan, and sons Kevin and Danny.
Thomas tells us the overall development includes a total of 60k SF of destination retail space, configured in a promenade that ties the two hotels together. Visitors will have access to hotel restaurants via outdoor patios that connect to the retail component, and a waterfront park that offers expansive views of the bay.
The park, known as Lane Field, is a local landmark, as it was once the Padres’ minor league ballpark. Thomas says Portman purposefully positioned the hotels on the site to open up the waterfront view to people in Downtown. “That’s why our buildings don’t flank the waterfront,” he says, noting the park is already open to the public and will be activated with programming, like music concerts and outdoor movies.
Portman is putting in an assortment of hip, trendy shops; restaurants; cafés that resonate with guests and visitors; and convenience services, like a small, high-end grocer and scaled-down pharmacy-type retailer that offers a limited selection of products for visitors and neighborhood residents.
Two tenants already have taken space within the 23k SF BRIC 1 retail component—Ryan Brothers Coffee and Beach Hut Deli, Thomas says. A high-end gelato shop is coming soon. The project includes a public parking structure for 1,100 cars, which will provide visitors two hours of free parking. A facility that offers fitness classes is also planned.
With a painted yellow stripe covering its south-facing elevator tower and a yellow concrete lobby wall, the 19-story dual-brand Marriott resembles a boutique hotel more than a select-service product. It features a fifth-floor outdoor pool (pictured below), waterfront patio area and fitness center.
Putting the two brands under one roof created synergies, including a common lobby that is a blend of both brands and combined amenities, Thomas tells us. It also enhances Marriott’s ability to market to its customer base. This arrangement also provides economies of scale, like the ability to operate two hotels with one executive committee and infrastructure behind the house, he says.
The 18-story, 400-room InterContinental Hotel & Resort, which is under construction, will have two signature restaurants and a rooftop bar and adds 23k SF of retail to the BRIC 1 retail component. It also features full-range or resort-style amenities, 22k SF of meeting and ballroom space, landscaped walkways, multi-level indoor/outdoor terraces and balconies, and a 686-vehicle subterranean parking garage.
Thomas also commented on the proposed hotel tax hike and Convadium project. The cost of the project and proposed hotel tax hike does not concern him. He says the additional meeting space will increase hotel occupancy, providing a significant return on investment. As for the hotel tax increase, Thomas says most cities with tourism economies weaker than San Diego's are raising their hotel taxes to finance projects that benefit tourism, and it hasn’t affected hotel occupancy.
But, he believes separating the two meeting facilities is a big mistake. Any plan to expand the convention center should go vertical, like at the Las Vegas facility, where people move between sessions on escalators, Thomas says. When a meeting facility is spread out, it presents age restrictions for attendees, he says. He also says a contiguous expansion on the waterfront offers an opportunity to create outdoor meeting and social spaces that take advantage of the region’s mild climate.