By DAVE SCHWAB | Downtown News
Plans to give Seaport Village a huge, distinctively San Diego “makeover” are still in play, though it’s taking longer than anticipated.
“A project of this size and nature doesn’t just happen — it evolves over time,” said Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, managing partner of Protea Waterfront Development, the team behind Seaport San Diego, a re-imagining of the 39-year-old, 90,000-square-foot Seaport Village waterfront shopping and dining complex.
“Our vision is to create a vibrant, experimental-based attraction near the water,” said Gaffen. “Our goal is for this to be a legacy project for more than just San Diego, that’s going to be transformational for the whole West Coast.”
Years in the making, the long-term Seaport Village redevelopment’s two major new attractions, an aquarium and an observational spire and platform, continue to anchor the project.
However, Gaffen noted there have been “enhancements” made to the overall project concept, which now includes construction of three, brand-new full-service hotels as well as a “new generation” student hostel. The hostel will have beds in shared rooms offering travelers less-expensive accommodations.
Another new feature of revitalizing Seaport Village will be the introduction of a “butterfly wonderland.” Gaffen said that project is based on an existing butterfly exhibition in Scottsdale, Arizona, which he described as “a magical, educational and entertaining experience for both kids and adults.”
Additionally, Gaffen noted the number of hotels in the project has now grown from three up to as many as six.
Meanwhile, the transition from old to new at Seaport Village continues. In October 2018, the Port of San Diego became the owner/landlord of Seaport Village, with Protea Property Management, Inc. (Protea) managing and operating the shopping and dining center for the Port.
“Working in close collaboration with our partners, the Port of San Diego is revitalizing and enhancing the experience at Seaport Village for residents, visitors and the businesses that operate within it,” said Garry Bonelli, San Diego Board of Port Commissioners chair. “Our goal is to create excitement and energy within Seaport Village, and also strengthen our relationships with our tenants while maximizing revenues for the public’s benefit.”