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Port Staff Recommends OliverMcMillan's $1B Proposal For Redevelopment Of East Harbor Island

The 57-acre site formerly occupied by rental car facilities will be redeveloped with hotels, retail and a variety of recreational and tourist activities.
East Harbor Island redevelopment site

Local developer OliverMcMillan’s plan to overhaul east Harbor Island, replacing car rental facilities with a mix of hotels and retail, a canal system and man-made beaches, is the pick of Unified Port of San Diego staff. UPSD commissioners will be asked at Thursday’s meeting to select OliverMcMillan’s $1B plan over the other contender for this project, locally based Sunroad Enterprises, which operates a marina on Harbor Island.

Port staff determined OliverMcMillan’s proposal is stronger for generating rent revenue and public access via multiple pedestrian pathways, a canal and recreational pursuits, including water-related activities on kayaks, paddle boards and small water craft, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The 57-acre site, across the bay from the airport, will be optimized with parks, sand games, naturalized beach areas, expansive open plazas, and a ferry and water taxi.

OliverMcMillan estimates an investment of $782M to $978M in development would generate $10.5M in rent payment by the fourth year of operation, while Sunroad projects $8M annually for its project, beginning in the eighth year. Following approval by the commission, the winning proposal would also be subject to environmental review, negotiation of lease terms, and port and Coastal Commission approvals before the developer can break ground.

Partnering with local hotel operator Evans Hotels, owner of the Bahia and Catamaran hotels in Mission Beach and the Lodge at Torrey Pines, OliverMcMillan’s proposal would provide three hotels, including one with up to 1,100 rooms, a boutique property with up to 400 rooms and a third—dubbed a “boatel”—designed as affordable lodging on the bayfront with 350 to 400 rooms. The plan also provides office space for the port headquarters and harbor police, ocean-related research, an arts facility, plazas, a public market, a seaplane exhibit and dry boat storage. [SDUT]