Iconic visitors center, closed since 2010, said on verge of revival
by Keith Antigiovanni
Published - 06/06/12 - 04:47 PM | 3674 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although the city hopes to reopen the Mission Bay Visitors Information Center in the future, officials said there are some structural issues like an uneven floor surface and the lack of a gas line. Photo by Don Balch I Beach & Bay Press
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The fate of the iconic, woodsy-style Mission Bay Visitors Information Center — a landmark along Interstate 5 between East Mission Bay Drive and Clairemont Drive for the last 42 years — remains uncertain after the facility was shuttered in September 2010, according to city officials.

The facility was closed after the City Council decided to terminate a lease with the former operator, Ted Jardine.

Since then, the city has sent out an official request for proposal (RFP) to potential lessees to bid for the operation of the facility.

The city’s Real Estate Assets (REA) Office is handling the process. According to REA spokeswoman Kristi Geitz, the city cannot release the names of the bidders or speak to how long the process might take. She said the only information she could confirm is that officials are through most of the process.

Geitz said the Mission Bay Visitors Information Center has at least some structural issues, including an uneven floor surface and no gas line. It is not clear what other structural problems there might be or who would be responsible for fixing them, and no repair-cost estimates have been disclosed.

The City Council has final approval on the winning bid and contract.

The Mission Bay Visitors Information Center opened its doors in 1969 and was operated by Jardine and his family. The Jardine family offered both tourists and residents hotel/motel reservations, beach vacation rentals, brochures, maps, snack bar, restrooms and sightseeing information to San Diego County’s major attractions.

Jardine reportedly struggled over the years to battle the steady increase in online reservations that made it possible for people from out of town to book their reservations ahead of time and circumvent the Visitors Information Center once they arrived in San Diego.

Jardine also reportedly made a last-ditch effort to save his business by financially restructuring it, but the technology of online reservations was apparently too much for him to overcome.

According to a cbs8.com article from 2010, the gross revenues for the Mission Bay Visitors Information Center decreased from $1.6 million in 1999 to just over $310,000 by the first three quarters of its final year in 2010.

The number of motel/hotel reservations booked by the Visitors Information Center also dropped significantly, dipping from more than 16,000 in 1997 to 450 by 2010.
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