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Another Voice reader asks:
If the Navy Broadway Complex site is owned by the federal government, why isn’t the site only limited to public government
Another good question. See my summary of the 1992 federal court decision allowing the Navy to use the property for non-governmental purposes.
Several readers have suggested that public buildings be put on the site, such as a bayfront performing arts center like the Sydney Opera House, or other world-famous facilities, that would put San Diego on the map.
A lot of people following this issue have suggested that the city work with the Navy and the federal government to identify funding to build a new stand-alone Navy regional headquarters building, either on the NBC site or elsewhere downtown. I think that if CCDC could put up matching funds, and our congressional delegation worked together to get a line item in the pending federal defense appropriations bill, that is a real possibility.
Interestingly, local government has a history of being located on the bayfront.
When it was built in 1935, today’s County Administration Center building was called the Government Administration Center. One half of the building held county government, the other half housed the San Diego city government. San Diego citizens who wanted to do business with either the city or the county government went down to the bayfront to meet their elected officials and their staff, and city and county policy makers offices had an unobstructed view of San Diego Bay.
Later, the city of San Diego moved City Hall to its current location at 202 C street as part of a real estate deal that made several downtown developers very wealthy, but as far as a clear connection to the harbor, unless your office is in one of the top floors, today’s city hall might as well be in Bismark, North Dakota.
The 1992 downtown community plan update suggested selling the existing city hall and building a new one at the head of Broadway in Centre City East. Of course, at this time, city government is about broke and its financial troubles don’t allow much discussion of moving city hall to any other locations. But I believe that the city will bounce back, if our current elected officals get serious about being financial responsible, and one day they might want to move city hall to another downtown site. One option they might want to look at might be putting a new bayfront city hall facility on the Navy Broadway site. But if the Navy allows MFG to build its currently proposed project on the site, that option will be forever lost to the city.
– DON WOOD