Papa Doug Manchester Is Not Done With San Diego Yet – Not by a Long Shot – His Massive Waterfront Project Will Drastically Alter City Skyline

by on May 23, 2018 · 3 comments

in San Diego

Did you think Papa Doug was gone?

If you did, think again, for Doug Manchester is roaring back after disembarking from the good-ship Union-Tribune, and is about to install his latest and largest implant on San Diego yet. The shovels and cranes are about to start digging – for it’s Papa Doug’s Pacific Gateway project – a massive redevelopment of the Navy Complex at the foot of Broadway in downtown San Diego.

Lori Weisberg at the San Diego Union-Tribune calls it,”the single largest and costliest project in downtown San Diego history.”

Manchester, one of the kingpins of the San Diego hotel industry, swatted away the pesky lawsuits, found financing for his $1.5 billion project, and is about to begin construction on the 12 acres south of Broadway between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive. (See Weisberg’s article for the financing angle.) Manchester developed the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Fairmont Grand Del Mar and Manchester Grand Hyatt.

And, wow, what a dizzying new project it will be.

The entire footprint – 3-million-square-feet – the site of the former Navy facility since the 1920s – takes over 8 ocean-fronting city blocks, and will include a tower complex, a new building for the Navy, and new hotels for Manchester. These include:

  • The entire complex will contain 7 buildings;
  • 17-story, 372,000-square-foot Navy headquarters – opening in 2020.
  • a 29-story, 524,000-square-foot office tower;
  • an eight-story, 178,000-square-foot office building;
  • a six-story, 153,000-square-foot office tower;
  • 290,000 square feet of retail, along a retail-lined “paseo;”
  • an 1,100-room convention hotel;
  • a 260-room luxury boutique hotel;
  • a museum;
  • a 1.9-acre public park;
  • a site-wide pedestrian spine across the length of the properties.

Antonio Pacheco, also at the San Diego Union-Tribune, described it this way:

The multi-phase project will be anchored by a new Navy headquarters, to be housed in a new 17-story … mixed-use tower located at the heart of the project. …

Renderings for the project depict a collection of traditionally-styled high-rises with arched storefront windows along the ground floors and repetitive spans of curtainwall glass interrupted by vertical and horizontal bands of masonry detailing on upper levels.

One of the tower blocks will consist of a pair of linked towers that are connected via a skywalk while other structures in the complex will feature stepped-back facades and punched openings along certain exposures. The two largest building clusters feature four-story podium structures that anchor the towers located above, with both podium levels topped with terraces and garden amenities, including an elliptical swimming pool.

The massive project has taken a number of years to get off the ground.

It just so happened that not every San Diegan liked Papa Doug’s dreams for the city’s waterfront. Given the greenlight in 2006, Manchester was immediately confronted by activists and lawsuits. One group, the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, pressed for the land to be returned to the people of San Diego because the original use of the land approved by voters in 1920 was for a supply center. Other alternative dreams included a large, waterfront park akin to Chicago’s Millennium Park or a new site for San Diego’s decaying and crumbling City Hall.

Anna Daniels was one of those activists who tried to block the Manchester steamroller. She told the OB Rag:

Manchester Pacific Gateway– a massive edifice complex of boutique hotels and retail space funded by vulture capitalists that essentially privatizes our–the people’s– waterfront.

But the legal suits ended in 2016 and now that Doug has the money, he can move ahead and alter the skyline and look of downtown San Diego like he’s never done before.


By Lori Weisberg May 3, 2018 San Diego Union-Tribune

Antonio Pacheco, May 17, 2018 San Diego Union-Tribune

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean May 24, 2018 at 9:45 am

It’s a large project, but likely needed for the Downtown area. We don’t build any office product Downtown, which makes it exceedingly difficult to attract substantial company expansions and relocations from outside of San Diego.


Mlaiuppa June 9, 2018 at 10:50 pm

1.9 acres? How many average “front yards” is that? 4? 6? They’re counting the basically inaccessible green space strips along side the road as part of the “open space” public parks. Our city leaders once again sold out the people and gifted developers with prime real estate. Anyone remember Liberty Station? This is just another theft of our prime public real estate. Nice to know there is a precedent for disrespecting the will of the people and the democratic process. If it was so easy to dismiss the votes of the people of San Diego in 1920, think how much easier it will be for them to overturn our votes? They won’t even have to wait 100 years the next time.


OB DUDE June 10, 2018 at 10:42 am

Sound like the folks at NTC renamed Liberty Station are not too happy


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