North Embarcadero JPA

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Joint Powers Authority formed to provide infrastructure
for North Embarcadero plan

By THOR KAMBAN BIBERMAN, San Diego Daily Transcript,
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A new joint powers authority was approved by the combined boards of the Port Commission and the Centre City Development Corp. Tuesday to provide the infrastructure for development of San Diego's bay front.

The newly created JPA for the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan will consist of one member from the port, one member from CCDC and one from the city of San Diego's Redevelopment Agency. The port representative is expected to be Port Commissioner Victor Vilaplana; CCDC's representative is expected to be Wayne Raffesberger; and the Redevelopment Agency representative is likely to be Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who represents the North Embarcadero area.

The most visible parts of the North Embarcadero Plan will be the big-ticket items such as large hotel complexes totaling more than 800 rooms for Lane Field and a new cruise ship terminal as large as 200,000 square feet on the B Street Pier.

The JPA's infrastructure work will include roadway relocation, a new esplanade on Harbor Drive between Broadway and B Street, required utilities and extensive landscaping. The roadwork along Harbor Drive would allow for four traffic lanes with parallel parking on both sides, or three lanes with angled parking.

Other work will include:

# The coordination of the esplanade design with waterfront businesses;

# Consideration of the operational requirements of cruise ship operations at the Broadway Pier and Cruise Ship Terminal;

# The coordination of ongoing and future utility infrastructure;

# Maximizing and quantifying the number of buses and trucks that can be accommodated in designated staging areas;

# Accommodation of a large, tree-planted median, dual left-turn lanes in some areas plus a bike path along Pacific Highway;

The boards agreed Tuesday to a 50/50 split ($1 million for each agency) of the cost of the construction documents.

The plan is expected to cost about $20 million to implement. But given how construction costs are soaring, this may be a moving target.

Improvements on the east side of Harbor Drive, Broadway, the view corridors down the extension of C Street and Pacific Highway will be provided by the developers of Lane Field and the cruise ship terminal -- a joint venture of Manchester Financial Group and Viejas Enterprises.

While the financing of the construction documents will be shared equally between CCDC and the port, it's unclear what will happen after that. CCDC does have $10 million in funding in hand that it has gained from tax increments.

The port, which could opt for bond financing pledged against future hotel revenues, has projected it can secure more than $1 million per year from the Lane Field hotels if they are constructed.

Jeff McEntee, the port's chief financial officer, voiced concerns, however. "Until there is a greater assurance that a hotel will be built, it becomes difficult to assure the bondholders," he said.

CCDC Chairwoman Jennifer LeSar shared some of McEntee's apprehension. "I have a lot of concerns about sequencing," she said. "... I'm worried about when Lane Field (hotels) gets built."

Lane Field revenues aren't the only potential funding sources for the infrastructure.

McEntee said a favorable verdict concerning a lease dispute and remediation expenses at the old Teledyne Ryan site next to Lindbergh Field could provide the necessary $10 million. This depends on how much is needed for the cleanup and whether or not those funds could be diverted for other purposes.

Additional sources could include any combination of transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues, tax increments, lease revenues, capital development programs, federal and State funds, grants or other sources.

Both commissioners Stephen Cushman and Michael Bixler said they would like to see the city of San Diego itself -- and not just its redevelopment agency and CCDC -- participate financially in bankrolling the North Embarcadero plan.
"As its health improves, we're going to have the expectation of financial participation," Bixler said.

Karen Weymann, the port's assistant real estate director, said the timing for the North Embarcadero support work assumes construction on the cruise ship terminal will start some time in 2008, with completion in 2010 or 2011. The JPA's work is slated for completion by 2011 or 2012.

While the JPA will initially deal with the property in the immediate vicinity of Lane Field and the cruise ship terminal, this is just one component of a plan that will be realized over many years.

For this reason, JPA has a 40-year lifespan. The board must meet at least twice a year.