Urban Plaza Breaks Ground
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SAN DIEGO-Local government officials and Westfield executives broke ground recently on an urban-plaza project adjacent to Horton Plaza Park downtown here. The $14.7-million project involves the demolition of an existing structure that will make way for a 1-acre park, officials tell GlobeSt.com. The project is the result of a unique public-private partnership between the City of San Diego, Civic San Diego and Westfield and is intended to create a new central gathering space and restore the existing park and fountain, which have fallen into disrepair.
The San Diego City Council unanimously voted in favor of the new urban plaza in January 2011. As part of the approved plan, Westfield agreed to demolish the former Robinsons-May/Planet Hollywood building at the historic Horton Plaza shopping center, transfer ownership of that land to the City and maintain and actively program the park for 25 years. The project will also restore and beautify the existing park and fountain adjacent to the property.
“Westfield is proud to partner with the City on a project that will honor the storied history of the Horton Plaza area as a catalyst for economic growth and success in downtown,” said Jerry Engen, SVP of development for the Westfield Group in San Diego, in a prepared statement. “We are committed to helping create, maintain and activate a world-class urban plaza that will provide residents and visitors alike with the opportunity to enjoy more than 200 events each year that will celebrate our diverse cultural, spiritual and community traditions.”
Demolition of the former Robinsons-May/Planet Hollywood building began at the groundbreaking ceremony and will continue over the next few months. Construction of the new urban plaza, which was designed through a robust public process, is expected to begin in April 2013, with project completion scheduled for Spring 2014.
“The project will provide an economic boost to the surrounding area, continue the redevelopment that began four decades ago and ensure that Horton Plaza Park remains an exciting part of San Diego’s bright future,” said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders at the groundbreaking ceremony.
According to San Diego City Council president pro tem Kevin L. Faulconer, who was also present at the ceremony, “It has been apparent for quite some time that Horton Plaza Park needed a makeover. The square must be restored to meet the needs of downtown’s growing population and reclaim its historic role as a regional destination for San Diegans and future generations. Along with other new attractions such as the waterfront park, the urban plaza will be a beloved downtown amenity for years to come.”
As GlobeSt.com previously reported, although the concept of public-private partnerships has been around for decades, the current economic situation has many people considering the viability of cities partnering with private enterprise for the improvement of the local economy.
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