SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — After 20 years of planning and delays, an effort to transform the parking lot on Navy Pier into an actual park is finally moving forward.
Tuesday, the USS Midway Museum and the Port of San Diego entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" on the project. It spells out what the park will include, who will pay for construction, and when it will be completed.
The new 5-acre park will be called "Freedom Park."
In a statement to ABC 10News, Port Board of Commissioners Chairman Dan Malcolm called the agreement a "major milestone," adding it will improve public access to the water on the North Embarcadero.
“In collaboration with the Midway as well as the California Coastal Commission, we will create a better experience for all who visit our San Diego Bay waterfront," says Malcolm.
USS Midway Museum Spokesperson David Koontz echoed the that excitement, saying the project will "create a beautiful public space on the downtown waterfront for San Diegans as well as visitors to America's Finest City. While there is still much work that needs to be done, we're thrilled to be moving forward."
According to the agreement, the Port will be responsible for reinforcing the existing pier as part of Phase I of construction. The Midway will foot the bill for the rest of the project, which includes demolition of the "Headway House" at the East end of the pier and construction of the park. The agreement says that could cost as much as $30 million.
A rough sketch of the park concept shows a public restroom, trees, a walking path, four pavilions, and a view corridor stretching from the entrance near E Street to the water.
The project also includes 1.25 acres for parking spots. That will only replace a fraction of the nearly 500 parking spots currently on Navy Pier. But officials from the Midway say they're not worried about losing the spaces because "additional parking options have already come to this part of waterfront over past number of years.
Also, the current development of IQHQ's research and development district directly across the street from Navy Pier, where the old Navy Broadway Complex use to be located, will add thousands of new parking spots in the next few years."
The Freedom Park project still needs approval from the California Coastal Commission. That could take a few years. But the MOU says the entire project needs to be finished within five years.