San Diego City Council clears ways to build delayed Horton Plaza Park

Project broke ground in Nov. 2012

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council Tuesday cleared the way for the resumption of construction of an $11.7 million public park project at Horton Plaza that's about one year behind schedule.

Groundbreaking on the 37,000-square-foot urban plaza and demolition of the former Robinsons/May building on the site took place in November 2012. It was originally slated to open this spring, but the anticipated opening has been pushed back to the summer of 2015, said Daniel Kay, a senior project manager in the city's Public Works Department.

The project was subject to numerous uncertainties created by the dissolution of the redevelopment system in California, including being rejected by the state Department of Finance, which decides which projects already in the redevelopment pipeline would be allowed to continue.

Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego -- which plans city development -- said state officials later reversed their decision.

While the site along Broadway was cleared, further progress was slowed because of problems in obtaining a clear title to the property and by a substandard belowground electrical box that was discovered, Graham said.

The front of Horton Plaza along Broadway has been walled off, with little construction work taking place.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said "a lot of extenuating factors" slowed down the building of "a great civic park."

"We'll file this under nothing worth doing is ever easy," Gloria said.

The City Council's action was to approve plans and specifications for the project, which will include restoration of a fountain and a lawn; construction of an amphitheater; underground storage; installation of granite paving, chairs and tables; and the building of public restrooms, retail and refreshment pavilions, according to city documents.

City officials envision a public plaza that would host around 200 events a year, including concerts, cultural festivals and civic celebrations. The park will be owned by the city but managed for 25 years by  Westfield, the international operator of shopping malls.

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