An environmental analysis is out on the NAVWAR redevelopment proposal to turn it into a transit hub with housing and airport connections, while pressure is building to downsize the project by a local group calling itself Save San Diego’s Character.
“Recently, the Navy initiated a direct mail campaign to notify residents and business owners of the impending renovation of the NAVWAR facility in Old Town offering five ‘alternatives’ to review and select a viable option,” said Patty Ducey-Brooks of Presidio Communications, speaking for Save San Diego’s Character. “The Navy proposes a version that has caused lots of concern regarding the character, integrity, and history of San Diego.”
In response, residents, and business owners in Midway, Old Town, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Point Loma, and Ocean Beach have enlisted an aggressive campaign to support Alternative 1, which encourages the Navy to rebuild a suitable facility for NAVWAR in Old Town.
A draft environmental impact statement on the NAVWAR redevelopment proposal is out for public review now until July 13, and there is a Wednesday, June 23 Zoom meeting scheduled on the project from 5:30-8 p.m.
Navy spokesperson Caitlin Rose Ostomel said the NAVWAR redevelopment project is still in the early environmental and planning stages.
“While the exact development plan is not known at this time, the range of alternatives analyzed in the draft environmental impact statement represents a reasonable range of development options,” said Ostomel. “The Navy initiated a request to gauge industry interest and solicit ideas for modernizing Old Town Transit Center through a public-private development arrangement. In a public-private development, the developer pays for the construction of new Navy facilities in exchange for lease or other development rights of the remaining land.”
Save San Diego’s Character claims the NAVWAR redevelopment project, if totally built out, would create high-rise commercial development; 106 buildings stretched for half a mile along I-5 that reach up to 350-feet in height; 10,000 new residential units for 14,000 residents; a $4 billion transit hub; and a wall of commercial buildings that would create a visible and physical barrier for the residents and communities of Midway, Old Town, Downtown, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, and Point Loma.
The Navy’s five alternatives for NAVWAR redevelopment are spelled out at www.NAVWAR-Revitalization.com. Under Alternative 1, Navy-only redevelopment of NAVWAR facilities would occur by phasing construction projects over five years. This alternative would not involve mixed-use development or a transit center on Old Town Center.
Under Alternatives 2-5, new modern facilities would be constructed for NAVWAR at OTC. Once new NAVWAR facilities are constructed, all existing buildings on OTC would be demolished and replaced with private development of residential, office, hotel, retail, streets, alleys, sidewalks, parks, and open space. A public-private development agreement would be implemented over a 30-year period.
Two Save San Diego’s Character supporters both expressed a preference for Alternative 1 only.
“Alternative 1 is the only path forward to prioritize Navy modernization and allow time for City, community, and historic organizations to provide input to private development and transit,” said Jaime Gonzales. “Buildings up to 21-32 stories, adding up to 10,000 dwelling units, and 70,000 new car trips a day, should not be wedged into 70 acres in the congested Midway District. San Diegans must have a voice to create a proud legacy that fulfills the housing and transit needs of tomorrow without undue sacrifice to our citizens’ lives.”
“I would like NAVWAR to approve Alternative 1 and immediately commence the redevelopment of their NAVWAR facility for their mission-critical operations of Cyber Security and Information Systems,” said Susan Trebon. “I oppose Alternatives 2-5 as these plans allow for the high-density build of up to 21-32 story high-rise structures not compatible nor congruent with San Diego’s Old Town Historic District.
“I would like NAVWAR and the community of San Diego to work together for mature growth and redevelopment of this valuable and unique area. Any proposed redevelopment structures' scale, bulk, height, and design should be in harmony with the historic district of Old Town, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and Liberty Station. And the redevelopment's aesthetic and design elements should be done with reflection, respect, and preservation of our historical community,” Trebon said.
“The Navy is committed to providing extensive opportunities for public involvement, during the development of the draft and final environmental impact statements and to share their ideas, concerns, and questions on the project,” said Navy spokesperson Ostomel. She added the environmental study out for review on the project “provides an analysis of the potential effects a proposed federal action may have on the environment. The EIS process includes public involvement and results in more informed decision-making.
“Alternatives that meet the purpose of and need for the project are developed and the EIS documents the potential impacts each alternative could have on the environment. In the EIS, measures are developed to avoid or reduce environmental impacts that might result from each of the alternatives, resulting in the selection of an alternative for implementation as documented in a record of decision.”