If the mayor wants to build a Convention Center expansion along the waterfront, he’ll have to do it without a new 1,600-room hotel across the street that was supposed to serve as cash cow for the project.

That’s the word from JMI Realty, co-owner of a parcel of property eyed for a new high-rise hotel in San Diego’s East Village near Petco Park.

Officials with the real estate company – part of former Padres owner John Moores’ family of businesses – said in a statement Wednesday they support expanding the Convention Center but have long opposed the coastal site, citing the loss of public access and views.

Instead, they favor a city-owned property known as Tailgate Park a half-mile away. A JMI hotel between the two convention buildings would have provided an aerial footbridge connection, sorely needed hotel rooms and additional meeting space inside.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other public officials doubled down on plans for a coastal expansion last week following a new consultant’s report that compared the two locations. Faulconer announced he would ask voters to approve an increase the city’s hotel room tax in order to pay for the $549 million expansion.

The addition of 1,600 hotel rooms would have helped finance the project and would have boosted the inventory of discounted hotel rooms offered to convention attendees – an issue that’s been a sticking point for big conventions like Comic-Con in recent years.

Though the study, conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, favored the coastal expansion, its authors said, “The potential headquarter hotel development discussed for the site near Petco Park would be important in order for added SDCC space, under any development option, to achieve market potential.”

The hope was that JMI would still build the hotel on what may be the closest undeveloped parcel in the area. The company has also been fielding offers for condo development on the property, but hasn’t announced a deal. Now that JMI has nixed the hotel, officials will need to come up with another option.

Here is the full JMI Realty statement:

Recent discussions have caused JMIRealty to carefully reassess the prospect of a bay front convention center expansion. We have determined that, as a matter of policy, any expansion that further walls off the bay front is not in the best interest of the City or its residents.

San Diego’s downtown success is inherently connected to its bay front. Time, money and thought have been invested in an effort to balance the residential, tourist and business experiences.

A bay front expansion would abandon these substantial and well-planned investments, unnecessarily compromise public access, diminish the quality of life for San Diego residents, and, ironically, fail to take advantage of our most unique and marketable assets as a convention destination.

JMIRealty will not support or participate in any development that further walls off bay front access.

John Kratzer


Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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