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New cruise ship terminal breaks ground

The Port of San Diego officially kicked off construction of a new cruise ship terminal with a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.

The $22.4 million project will be a two-story, 52,000-square-foot terminal and will be located at the end of Broadway about 400 feet from Harbor Drive just south of the port’s current cruise ship terminal.

The terminal is designed with a glass façade around the building, glass roll-up doors and a "saw tooth" roofline -- similar to the Children’s Museum downtown.

The terminal will accommodate up to 2,600 passengers and will have an area for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

“We have been waiting for this day for a long, long time,” said Stephen P. Cushman, chair to the Board of Port Commissioners, who was one of several officials from agencies across the county and Mexico at the ceremony. “We couldn’t have done this without all of our partners.”

The new terminal is being constructed to achieve LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Miami-based Bermello Ajamil and Partners Inc. -- with Southern California offices in Long Beach -- is the architectural firm that designed the project.

“This will be the first (new) cruise (ship) terminal built in the world that will be LEED certified or that will be a green terminal in terms of its ability to generate energy and save energy,” said Luis Ajamil, the project’s architect.

Some of the sustainable features include photovoltaic solar panels that will provide at least 12 percent of the building’s energy; water efficient toilets, urinals and faucets; and organic materials such as paint, carpets and sealants. About 75 percent of the waste materials will be recycled.

“There’s only been two cruise ship terminals built in the last two decades in California and this will be the latest one,” Ajamil added.

Some demolition work has already begun by Jaynes Corp., the general contractor in charge of the project. Once completed, most of the heavy construction will begin, including seismic work where a marine subcontractor will have to work underneath the current pier, which is the most unique and challenging aspect of the project according to Jaynes Corp. Executive Vice President Rick Cohen.

“This will have to be the first thing completed before any of the other work on the project can start,” he explained.

According to the Port of San Diego, the project will be completed by December 2010.

The project was able to get under way thanks to a $12 million loan from Carnival Corp., of which $10 million will go directly to the new terminal. The remaining $2 million will go toward improvements on the current cruise ship terminal.

The rest of the funds to pay for the new terminal will come from the Port’s capital development program.

“The new cruise ship terminal will assist the Port of San Diego with its growing cruise business,” said Marguerite Elicone, spokeswoman for the Port of San Diego. “We want to lure more cruise ships and remain competitive with neighboring port cities.”

According to Cushman, each ship brings an estimated $2 million into the local economy. The project, so far, has created 75 construction jobs.

“At the heart of this there are 3,000 jobs the (cruise ship) industry brings to our region and 48,000 jobs to the state of California,” he added.

The public will be able to walk along the new terminal and renovated pier when no cruise ships are ported.

Also, the new terminal will have an open pavilion for the public to enjoy views of the San Diego Bay, and on the second floor of the building, another area will be available for special events.

The new terminal will be able to dock one cruise ships and will act as a secondary terminal to the Port’s main one located at the B Street Pier, which can accommodate two cruise ships at a time.

The Port charges on average $5,000 per ship to dock based on its size. In fiscal year 2008, 297 ships docked in San Diego.

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