What You Need to Know About the Port Development Proposals

The Unified Port of San Diego is hearing from developers Tuesday behind five proposed ideas to bring an observation attraction to the port waterfront area of Downtown San Diego. All five groups approached the board with an interest in developing a project on the bay.

The board will decide whether they are interested in moving forward with a plan. To get a better understanding of the plans they're looking at, we've broken those five plans down for our readers...


Proposal A: Discovery Point  

This 450 foot tall structure would be built at the G Street Mole surface parking area, according to Port meeting documents. It would have 30 Gondolas that fit 25 people each. Tickets would cost $25 to $30 for the projected 1.7 to 2.3 million visitors. The project proposed by Discovery Point would cost about $200 million and developers estimate it would bring in an annual revenue of $60 to $70 million. Developers at Tuesday's meeting said the revenue the port makes from that property would quadruple if they were allowed to continue.

According to the Port, this proposal is the most comprehensive one they have in front of them. The development team consists of Discovery Point LLC, Gensler, Starneth, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Entertainment + Culture Advisors, McCarthy Building Companies, Greenhaus and Sosolimited.

Proposal B: Allegis Development Services, Inc. 

Headed by developers Paul Kanavos and Brett Torino, the group has not yet come up with a specific project proposal but is working on building a 450 foot Observation Wheel dubbed The San Diego Eye.

The catch is, this team is exclusively interested in a location in the Seaport Village area.

The people attached to the project also worked on the 400 foot tall Orlando Eye project, which opens in Spring 2015. The project would have 28 gondolas. The capacity of those gondolas, the ticket price, any annual revenue or visitor projections as well as the cost of the project is unknown. The developers did not present at the Port meeting.


Proposal C: Bussink Design (Bussink), Chance American Wheels (Chance) and SkyViews of America (SkyViews) partnership  

The developers in this partnership are pitching an observation wheel project similar to other projects the developers have completed at Niagara Falls, Myrtle Beach, Seattle, pigeon Forge and the "Captial Wheel" in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Though the developers do not have a site-specific proposal, they are open to various locations. At the Port meeting Tuesday, the developers pitched a one potential location as the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.

The wheel will either be 175 feet tall or 250 feet tall and will either have 42 or 54 gondolas that could fit about eight people. Ticket price would be $15 and developers expect about one million annual visitors. The project's price tag would be $15 to $30 million, plus infrastructure costs. They do not have an estimated annual revenue for the wheel once complete.

Proposal D: Pier 57 Corporation

The family-run business Pier 57, the business behind the Seattle Great Wheel, has said they would like to replicate that wheel in San Diego, dubbing it the "San Diego Great Wheel." The business specializes in West Coast waterfront projects along the coast in places like Seattle, San Clemente and Long Beach. They developed the Seattle Great Wheel in 2012 in addition to renovating and rehabilitating the surrounding area. The company continues to own and operate the entertainment venue and surrounding areas, including shops and restaurants.

Pier 57 has not yet released a site-specific proposal and do not have a specific location in mind, but they are interested in building a 175 foot structure at the Embarcadero area with 42 gondolas, including one VIP cabin, with rides ranging from 25 to 30 minutes in length.

Ticket prices would be $13 to $18 per person, though the developers do not have an estimated annual revenue. They project one million visitors would come to the wheel. Their project would cost upwards of $20 million.

Proposal E: US Thrill Rides (USTR)

The USTR is looking to build an observation attraction called "SkySpire San Diego," a building that would give visitors a 360 degree view of the city with a restaurant at the top. They are interested in developing, owning and operating the structure, which would be 250 feet high or taller, depending on Port restrictions.

Twenty or more gondolas would bring visitors up to the top. Each gondola would fit 10 people. With individual ticket prices set at $15, USTR expects annual revenues to be anywhere between $15 million to $22.5 million dollars. They project the structure will have anywhere from one to 1.5 million project visitors. The developer is open to various locations and the project would cost $30 or $40 million. Representatives at the Port meeting Tuesday said they are considering several locations, including a Seaport Village location.

The developer has built more than 300 rides around the world, including projects at Six Flags, Paramount, Mall of America and San Diego's Balboa Park.

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