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New parks, development to grace Chula Vista bayfront

An aerial shot of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan site. The area covers more than 550 acres.

A long-awaited vision for the South Bay will soon become a reality now that the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan received the blessing of the California Coastal Commission. The commission voted unanimously on Aug. 9 to approve the Chula Vista bayfront planning segment of the Port Master Plan. The Port Master Plan guides future port development to ensure that projects and developments within the port are consistent with the California Coastal Act.

More than a decade of planning and community participation has gone into this intricate plan that will transform 556 acres of Chula Vista’s underused industrial bayfront landscape into a thriving residential and resort destination on San Diego Bay.

Highlights include a bayfront resort and conference center that would include up to 1,600 rooms and 415,000 square feet of meeting space. The plan allows for up to 1,500 additional hotel rooms to be built at two additional sites. The project also has the potential for more than a million square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.

The project would also include 1,500 proposed residential units with a portion of these reserved for low and moderate income families.

Approximately 230 acres of the project’s total acreage is dedicated to parks, open space, and habitat restoration and preservation. Of these acres, 130 have been identified for new, publicly accessible parks and open space. A 46-acre “Signature Park” will also be a principal element of the plan. Public promenades, bike trails and other public access areas will be part of the project and will connect the entire bayfront.

The project will protect existing recreational vehicle and camping uses, with room for about 237 RVs. Other benefits include a reconfigured marina and improved commercial harbor and navigation channel.

Not only will this project provide much needed hotel accommodations and attractions to the South Bay, but it also includes numerous economic benefits. It is designed to be economically sustainable, creating local and regional jobs and producing new public revenues for the region. The project is projected to generate $1.3 billion during its first 20 years, including more than $11.5 million in annual tax revenues. It is also anticipated to create nearly 7,000 construction jobs, 2,200 permanent jobs and numerous indirect jobs in the regional economy.

The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan project is a collaborative process that received approval from the Board of Port Commissioners, the Chula Vista City Council, the Chula Vista Planning Commission, the Chula Vista Redevelopment Corporation, and the California State Lands Commission. More than 100 community meetings were held to ensure a broad range of community support.

Formal planning for the project began in 2002 with the formation of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan Citizens Advisory Committee. The committee provided guidance, which resulted in a draft land use plan. A comprehensive environmental impact report was certified in 2010, and a critical land exchange with Pacifica Companies was approved later that year. The land exchange will help guarantee permanent protection of habitat and open space, by shifting development toward the harbor area and away from wildlife preservation areas.

Now that the final approval has been granted, the port will begin with the preliminary planning for selecting a developer. A request for qualifications will be issued, and a set of finalists will be selected from submittals received. The project will be implemented in four major phases over a 24-year period. The first phase includes the development of the resort conference center, the creation of public parks and open space, the restoration of habitat areas, and the construction of a new fire station and mixed-use residential development.

It is envisioned that construction for the first phase could begin in early 2016. For more information on the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, please visit cvbayfront.com.

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