San Diego port district staff have recommended a proposal by locally based OliverMcMillan Inc. to develop hotels, recreational canals and other elements on 57 waterfront acres at Harbor Island. Port commissioners are scheduled to review the recommendation at their Sept. 8 meeting.
Port staff favored the OliverMcMillan plan over a competing proposal by San Diego’s Sunroad Enterprises. The two firms had been chosen as finalists earlier this year from among six development teams that had submitted plans to redevelop the land, much of which formerly housed rental car lots.
Port commissioners will be reviewing a recommendation calling for port staff to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with OliverMcMillan. According to port documents, the developer’s plans include two hotels, each with between 500 and 750 rooms; a 200 to 300-room “Boat-el” with affordable lodging accommodations; canals for kayaks, paddleboards and small watercraft; and a public administration campus that would include a port district administration building and headquarters for the Harbor Police Department.
The proposal also includes a mixed-use concept, which would have hospitality, blue-tech, retail, public market, office, restaurant and marine services. Other elements include a seaplane exhibit honoring the history of the location where planes were once built and launched; public view corridors; a grid of “urban” sidewalks and streets emphasizing pedestrian access; and a network of plazas, open spaces and piers.
OliverMcMillan plans to partner with San Diego-based Evans Hotels on the hotel components. The developer has estimated the total development cost of the mixed-use project at between $760 million and $1.12 billion.
If the developer’s project is chosen by the port, construction would not likely begin for about four years or longer, following necessary environmental and other reviews.
Headquartered in downtown San Diego, OliverMcMillan was founded in 1978 by CEO Dene Oliver and Chairman Jim McMillan. The company owns several San Diego County properties and has numerous mixed-use projects in various development stages nationwide, in cities including Tustin, Nashville, Denver, Atlanta and Honolulu.