State backs extra funds for Horton Plaza park project, plan will move forward

SAN DIEGO - The long-delayed project to turn a section of Horton Plaza into a civic gathering place received a major boost Monday when the state Department of Finance approved $4.9 million in extra funding.

The original funding mechanism for the project collapsed when the state did away with redevelopment agencies in 2011. The Finance Department has been deciding which projects caught up in the same bind will be funded.

Meanwhile, Civic San Diego, which guides development projects for the city, had to re-bid the project, and since the economy is doing better, the winning proposal came in at a higher cost than first projected, making the additional $4.9 million necessary.

When the project began nearly two years ago with the demolition of the Robinsons-May/Planet Hollywood building, city officials touted the park as a 37,000-square-foot public gathering place.

However, the boarded-up site on Broadway at Fourth Avenue has been inactive for many months. Problems with the property title and a substandard underground electrical box also contributed to the delays.

"This approval clears the last financial hurdle before construction of this important centerpiece for the city of San Diego," said Andrew Phillips, interim president of Civic San Diego. "We look forward to completing the project and thank all of the supporters of the restoration and expansion of Horton Plaza Park into a stunning public amenity."

When completed in September 2015, Horton Plaza Park will include an amphitheater, three food and beverage/retail pavilions with glass curtain walls, public restrooms, granite paving, stone walls, an interactive water feature and public right-of-way improvements, according to Civic San Diego.

Officials with the agency said the existing 20,000-square-foot historic park will be rehabilitated, the Broadway Fountain will be restored and new landscaping will be added.

The total construction cost is now projected at $16.9 million, with another $750,000 authorized by the City Council to handle future maintenance issues.

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