Horton Plaza Park: High-Rent District?

San Diego Opera was told the nonprofit fee to use the space will be $5,200 a day

As downtown's Horton Square Park closes in on a born-again future, nonprofit community groups are getting a rude awakening.

They likely won't be able to meet the cost of holding events there.

The park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is still several months away, after more than three years of construction work that's doubled the original budget -- as projected in 2010 -- up to $17 million.

Should anyone have expected bargain-basement deals to rent the place?

"When we inquired about the fee, the nonprofit fee, they quoted us $5,200 for one day,” said Nicolas Reveles, education and community engagement director of the San Diego Opera.

Not only is that fee out of the question for the opera, Reveles noted in an interview Tuesday, “I don't think any other arts organization in town could afford that."

The fee quote came from Westfield LLC, owner of the Horton Plaza shopping mall that overlooks the park-in-progress.

Under an agreement with the city, Westfield is required to host 75, then 150 and eventually more than 200 events a year in the park -- with only a fourth of those events allowed to be ticketed affairs or involve total closures to the public.

A Westfeld executive told Kinsee Morlan, who covers arts and culture for NBC 7’s media partner Voice of San Diego, that its rates are competitive with similar venues.

“The ArtsTix booth will actually be there, and they represent all the performing arts groups in town,” Morlan points out, “and so it kind of made sense that there would be some sort of arts engagement there. But it looks like the city and Westfield are maybe eyeing a different market for the events they want to host there."

The project is expected to reduce vagrancy and vandalism issues left over from redevelopment that created the shopping mall.

The original park was just a block-long frontage on Broadway.

The 2012 demolition of a big mall building behind it allowed for an expansion to accommodate a public square.

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