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Old Police HQ redevelopment still open, Powers talks stall

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Plans continue to advance for the Old Police Headquarters (OPH) project and surrounding development, but exactly who the tenants will be is still uncertain.

Diane Powers, operator of the Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town State Park for more than 32 years until the state awarded Delaware North Cos. that lease last year, was expected to take roughly half of the 90,000-square-foot OPH space. Now, Bruce Walton, GMS Realty executive vice president, concedes that while both parties are still interested, negotiations have stopped. GMS is a Carlsbad-based shopping center developer that is developing OPH and the nearby Harbor Seafood Market, and also holds the master lease on neighboring Seaport Village.

Powers spokeswoman Laura Walcher, who also confirmed that the sides aren't talking, said both sides want an accord.

"We've agreed to disagree. It's all economics," said GMS' Walton. "She (Powers) has a model that has obviously worked for her. We have a model based on the cost of rehabilitating the building."

Walton said the cost of restoring the OPH, the replacing of the Harbor Seafood Market and the creation of a pier walk will cost between $40 million and $50 million, not including the required tenant improvements.

Walton told the Board of Port Commissioners last Tuesday that even without Powers, he should have little trouble finding enough sublessees to fill the spaces. "We have 100 prospective tenants," he said, though no leases have been signed.

The development will have numerous "high-profile" restaurants, a public market with about 17,000 square feet of interior and 3,000 square feet of exterior space, numerous retail spaces, a 22,000-square-foot live performance venue with as many as 1,500 seats, a police museum and a section set aside for the history of the area, among other uses.

The redevelopment will feature 4.5 acres of park and greenbelt space, much of which is outside the GMS leasehold but still included. About 3.5 acres of the park space is being bankrolled by the Ruocco Fund via the San Diego Foundation.

"We're going to manage the park," Walton said.

Because the OPH is of historic value (it is listed on the National Historic Register), the developers must retain the architectural integrity, restore and reconstruct the OPH's character defining elements and do the minimal amount of demolition necessary to make the retail project possible.

The plan also utilizes extensive landscaping designed to provide corridors that emphasize the waterfront. The OPH surrounds an interior courtyard, and the urban gardens will be placed surrounding the OPH.

California Coastal Commission approval could come this July.

Working drawings will then be prepared, and lease commitments will be finalized shortly thereafter.

If the Coastal Commission approval is forthcoming, groundbreaking could begin in early 2007, said Walton. The marketing will continue throughout this process.

Walton said the project wouldn't have to be fully pre-leased before getting under way, though he admitted that he probably needs some leasing before construction can begin.

The Burnham Urban Retail Group of Burnham Real Estate Services has been named to market the project.

While a general contractor has not formally been named, Walton said GMS has been working closely with the Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting, which has built such projects as the former Gateway Corporate Headquarters in Poway, a Kaiser Permanente medical office building in El Cajon and the EastLake Professional Building in Chula Vista.

The OPH and its immediate surroundings are being designed by Fehlman LaBarre of San Diego and Sasaki & Associates of San Francisco.

Fehlman LaBarre is the designer of the 121-room Marriott Residence Inn downtown; the 425,000-square-foot EastLake Village Marketplace in Chula Vista, and the Mission Village mixed-use development in the Serra Mesa market.

Sasaki in conjunction with architect Rob Wellington Quigley are master-planning the whole Harborside area from the OPH to G Street. The signature element of this plan is a 3,600-foot-long, 20-foot-wide arced pier that while universally praised, could be too expensive to build.

The overall Harborside Plan also calls for a redevelopment of the 90,000-square-foot Seaport Village property. Walton said the plan is to get the OPH done first before moving on to Seaport Village, where in the meantime cosmetic improvements continue to be made.

GMS Realty is also the developer of the 620,000-square-foot Golden Valley Ranch Shopping Center in Santa Clarita and the 380,000-square-foot Murrieta Plaza development in Murrieta.

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