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Council OKs Horton Plaza park expansion

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A plan to develop a public park in front of Horton Plaza moved forward on Tuesday, and a few more details of the plan were revealed.

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a plan to tear down 130,000 square feet of retail space at Horton Plaza and expand and revamp the park that currently exists there. The park would be owned by the city but maintained largely by Westfield Corp., the retail company that owns Horton Plaza.

As part of the agreement, Westfield is obligated to put on 200 public events each year, such as concerts, farmer’s markets and movie screenings. During Tuesday’s hearing, it was revealed that the sponsors of these events would be largely in charge of cleanup and security for these events. If a local organization wants to put on an event at the park, it will need to apply to Westfield for a permit first, and Westfield will then forward that request to the city.

The park will also be home to four permanent kiosks for vendors. Those kiosks will be operated under the joint auspices of Westfield and the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

Scott Reese, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said that the city has established specific standards and a maintenance matrix for Westfield to ensure that the park is kept up.

“We would manage this much in the manner that we manage our MADs (Maintenance Assessment Districts), where we have one of our staff who would be responsible for seeing that maintenance standards are complied with,” Reese said.

With approval from the City Council, which was acting in its capacity as the city’s Redevelopment Agency, the project now moves to the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s redevelopment arm for downtown. CCDC will hold a series of public meetings to decide on a design for the park, and then hire an architect.

Both Westfield and the city hope to have the park complete on Dec. 31, 2013. Construction is time sensitive. CCDC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Frank Alessi explained that in 1972, the city created the Horton Plaza Redevelopment Project Area to bring large-scale retail back to downtown. The implementation of redevelopment is set to expire in 2013.

The project is expected to cost the city $35 million in diverted parking revenue funds. Research from the National University System Institute for Policy Research projected it will have a $310 million economic impact.

Westfield is footing the bill to demolish the building. The portion of the mall that is coming down used to hold a Robinson’s-May department store, and currently holds a Sam Goody record store and an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store. The building’s third floor is vacant.

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Rollo 7:17am January 12, 2011

Another top priority addressed by the City Council! With streets in need of major repair, water pipes bursting, services being cut, we now have an expanded park at Horton Plaza. Unbelieveable!!!! Remember about 15 or so years ago, when we had the grass area park at Horton Plaza? It was the favorite campsite for the homeless and became unuseable. We finally replanted the area to make it less people friendly to minimize the problem. So what now? I would suggest this Council quit spending money, quit developing photo ops, tighten their belts and do what they were elected for. Fix the pension problem, implement outsourcing and fix the broken infrastructure.

Horton Plaza

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