April 12, 2023 — The Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners has voted to advance a redevelopment project proposed by the Maritime Museum Association of San Diego (Maritime Museum) to the environmental review phase.
The Maritime Museum is seeking to redevelop its entire premises on the North Embarcadero with new facilities housed in a two-story, approximately 14,000-square-foot structure with plans to include galleries, an educational theater, a café for ticketholders and the public, a museum store, public access terraces, a dock and dine for recreational boaters, administrative offices, and back-of-house functions.
“The Maritime Museum, with historic ships including the Star of India, San Salvador, HMS Surprise, and others, is already an iconic cultural attraction on our San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “If approved and constructed in the future, this project seeks to greatly enhance the area and bring even more people to our North Embarcadero where there are already so many fun and interesting things to see, do, and experience.”
“Five generations of our community have contributed to making this one of the great Maritime Museums of the world, the place where we tell our story of the sea,” said President and CEO Ray Ashley, Maritime Museum of San Diego. “This stunning improvement to our waterfront is not only something worthy of that story, it projects a vision that our community can take pride in.”
At a meeting on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, the Maritime Museum presented their proposed project to the Board of Port Commissioners. If ultimately approved at a future Board meeting, the expanded museum would be built on a pile-supported pier at the venue’s current location. In addition to the features described above, the Maritime Museum proposes to reconfigure the dock area and mooring locations of their current vessels to enhance the aesthetics of the operation from the vantage of the North Embarcadero, to safeguard the vessels from tide and weather events, and to create a more enticing venue to attract more visitors to the museum. The Maritime Museum has teamed up with Tucker Sadler Architects to design the project. Recent Tucker Sadler projects on the bayfront include The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay RV Resort, and Portside Pier. Cohn Restaurant Group is on board to operate the café as well as event catering services. Cohn operates Coasterra, C-Level, and Island Prime on Harbor Island.
“Tucker Sadler Architects is honored to be the architectural firm for the design of the new Maritime Museum of San Diego,” said Greg Mueller, CEO & Principal Designer, Tucker Sadler Architects. “The proposed design for the new Maritime Museum of San Diego will align beautifully with the San Diego bayfront and Tucker Sadler’s goal of a modern destination bayfront design that continues to elevate the deeply rooted history of the beloved Maritime Museum of San Diego.”
The Maritime Museum currently estimates the cost of the proposed project at $28 million with funding from various sources included state grants, private financing, and private fundraising.
During the environmental review process to be conducted per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Port staff will work with the Maritime Museum to continue due diligence, refine the funding plan, and negotiate necessary documents, including a lease and other items that will be required in connection with the redevelopment. At the appropriate time following CEQA review and assuming successful negotiations with the Maritime Museum, staff plans to return to the Board at a future meeting or meetings for the Board to consider the project, a new lease agreement, and any other necessary agreements and/or entitlements.
The Maritime Museum is a California not-for-profit organization that has operated on the Embarcadero for 75 years. Home to one of the most extensive collections of historic vessels in the world, including the Star of India, the Berkeley, the Californian and others, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is an established cultural institution on the San Diego Bay waterfront serving the public. Several Maritime Museum vessels are listed as National and State historic landmarks and on the National Register of Historic Places, in the Guinness Book of World Records, and recipients of designations and awards by the Governor of California. Visitors may tour the historic vessels as well as temporary exhibits of visiting historic and replica ships, and exhibitions of historic watercrafts and works of art representing maritime history. The Museum hosts many popular public community events, award-winning educational programs, historian docent-led group tours, and features retail gift shop, private event venue space, charter operations, and catering services.
The Port of San Diego and some of its well-known tenants have delivered many exciting new public amenities and destinations on the North Embarcadero in recent years including:
- Portside Pier with first-rate views of San Diego Bay from public viewing areas and four Brigantine restaurants – Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Grill & Taps, and Portside Coffee & Gelato.
- BRIC – a lifestyle destination at Broadway and Pacific that includes the Intercontinental San Diego hotel and two Marriott hotels as well as restaurants and retail.
- North Embarcadero Visionary Plan – includes Lane Field Park, which is dedicated to and named after the field where the original Pacific Coast League Padres played from 1936-1957; a widened public esplanade lined with lush jacaranda trees; iconic public art by internationally acclaimed artist Pae White incorporated into the pavilions, café building, entertainment and information centers, and even the public restroom building; Carnitas Snack Shack; the “Grand Hall” along West Broadway; and more.