by Photo courtesy of the Port of San Diego

The California Coastal Comision on Thursday issued a permit that would convert Navy Pier into a public park along the North Embarcadero on San Diego Bay. 

The project is being spearheaded by the Port of San Diego and the USS Midway Museum to establish Freedom Park, nodding to San Diego’s military history. The park’s opening is anticipated for 2028.

According to the Port, the permit allows for “the demolition of the headhouse structure at the entrance to the pier, structural repairs/rehabilitation on and under the pier in the vicinity of the demolished headhouse, and then the construction of the park.”  

The Port anticipates beginning demolition of the headhouse in early 2024, followed by repairs and improvements to the pier, and the construction of Freedom Park. 

Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board of the Port of Commissioners, called the permit “a huge milestone” for the port, the Midway, and the coastal commission. 

“[This] is proof that a positive solution can be found in challenging situations,” Castellanos said. “We look forward to delivering this exciting new public park — and improving public access — on the North Embarcadero, the port’s most visible and public waterfront often considered San Diego’s `front porch.”‘

The design and construction of the project are estimated to cost $64.5 million.  The Port and Midway entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2022 to establish each party’s commitment to funding the project.

“This is a great next step, and together with our partners at the Port of San Diego, we’re now positioned to make Freedom Park on Navy Pier a reality,” said Mac McLaughlin, president, and CEO of the USS Midway Museum. “This new park will not only be a major public gathering place on the bayfront but will also be a proud tribute to the service and sacrifices of our military veterans.”

The park will be designed to connect with areas along the promenade and extend into G Street Mole to the Bob Hope Memorial, according to the Port. The park will include pedestrian pathways around and through the park, landscaping, enhanced paving, benches, play structures, memorials and monuments, coastal access and interpretive signage, signage, restrooms, a concessionaire, and parking.

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