The much-discussed Plaza de Panama project has as one of its main features the addition of a large multi-story parking project near the Organ Pavilion. I’ve been a supporter of the proposal, with major funding from Irwin and Joan Jacobs. While we’re undertaking this project, here’s something nearby that the time has come for some serious review.

This is the Starlight Musical Theatre, which also extends several stories downward into a park canyon. After several decades of running musicals, Starlight has had no shows the last two summers. Here it sits, in prime park location, with no current use and perhaps none ahead. Here are a couple of possible options for this venue and space:

• One of the major problems, long a source of audience amusement (and irritation), is when the airplanes swoop low as they’re landing at Lindbergh Field. The conductor flashes the “freeze” signal, with music stopping and actors going into a hold position. When the plane’s noise goes down, the conductor signals again and the show resumes. This would seem to be a most undesirable location for an open-air musical performance. If this survives for musicals, my suggestion is to install a roof over the open arena, cutting out the aircraft interruptions.

• Alternatively, it looks like that space might make a good choice, totally redesigned, as a multi-story parking garage (similar to the Plaza de Panama plan). The space at the top could either have a different building (museum?) placed atop the parking structure, or, as will be done with the Panama project, covered over with green space for park ambling, picnics, entertainment, events, etc. Entry and exit would be off President’s Way and onto Park Boulevard.

What thinkest thou?

Tom Leech is author of Outdoors San Diego: Hiking, Biking & Camping.


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