A fictional news article I would love to read someday. How can we make this actually happen?
October 11, 2016: Today, the Port of San Diego informed the current lessee of Seaport Village that is will not be renewing the lease when it expires in 2018. Long viewed as a tourist attraction that repels locals, the vision released today by the Port looks to reverse that disparity by drawing in locals and tourists alike by showcasing two of San Diego's treasures: beaches and craft brewing. Rather than relying on staid shops and so-so restaurants, the new Seaport Village will include a vibrant mix of public outdoor space, breweries, local shops and eateries, and dense housing.
The jewel of the new Seaport Village, yet to be named, will be a public "beer beach" seeking to embarrass the beer gardens of Germany. The port plans to import hundreds of tons of sand to create a public beach along San Diego Bay. "With this new beach, San Diego plans to be one of the few large cities in the United States with an actual beach downtown. Given how important beach culture is to this city, it's amazing to think we don't already have one," a Port spokesperson exclaimed. Adjacent to the beach, a park will house volleyball and basketball courts, a playground, a dog park, and rolling grass for relaxing and picnicking. A large floating platform will be installed in the Bay, complete with water slides and a tanning deck. Port Security will patrol the site, with the goal of providing the perfect balance between allowing a good time but avoiding rowdiness. "This is not the place to get wasted," the spokesperson explained. "We intend to maintain a friendly environment and anyone abusing the privilege will be escorted off site."
To provide the beer, the Port will build a new "San Diego Brewing Incubator" on the site currently occupied by the Harbor House restaurant. This beer hall will have all the brewing equipment necessary to support 10 microbrewers at once, each brewing small batches of new beers. Applicants will be selected by the San Diego Brewers Guild to occupy one of the ten spots for a two-year term. "The new brewing incubator will present an entirely unprecedented jumpstart on opening a new brewery," explained the Brewers Guild President. "If selected, these brewers can start pilot brewing their beers on day one, without any of the hassle of obtaining permits or locating a building. Best of all, the Port won't be charging one cent of rent."
Instead of rent, the Port is undertaking a radical experiment. To cover operating costs, brewers will be required to contribute a set percentage of their sales while they are housed at the incubator. Additionally, the brewers will also have to grant the Port a ten percent share in the brewery should the brewery then set out on its own. Although some brewers may never go into actual business, others may one day succeed, or be bought out by a larger brewer, and provide a steady income to the Port to be spent on future projects. When confronted with the fact that this may not maximize the revenue potential for the site if the brewers never open their own brewery or fail, a Port source replied, "We aren't in the business of making money. As our mission statement explains, we are in the business of providing economic vitality and community benefit to San Diego. We can't think of a better way of doing this than engaging the local population in a way that will attract tourists and also give a boost to our homegrown businesses."
The public will be able to enjoy daily tours of the breweries and also visit the expansive, open air tasting room, where the resident brewers can showcase their new beers. Established breweries will also be able to rent taps at the tasting room as another part of the experiment. For very favorable lease terms, the established brewers will be able to host two taps each so long as they also agree to have one of their veteran brewers mentor the startup brewers on a regular basis. As one of the startup brewer applicants explained, "being able to ask questions to the local veterans is an amazing opportunity. This often happens informally, but this new system gives us the confidence to brew our own beers knowing we will be able to seek their guidance. Plus, it will give us young upstarts a chance to show these old farts something new. Really, giving them exposure to the new trends in brewing makes this a net plus for the veteran brewers."
With a total of over 100 taps, the new tasting room should prove to be a new Beer Mecca for the city, attracting both residents and tourists alike. Visitors will be able to take their beers to the newly built beach and park or enjoy their beers anywhere along the Embarcadero Marina Park North.
The site will be easily accessible by Trolley, which should help to decrease drunk driving. And, to double down on the incentive not to drive to the site, almost all of the parking lot at Seaport Village and a portion of the area covered by current shops will be converted to a mixture of affordable and market-rate housing, with a substantial portion set aside to house the startup brewers. The new housing will be focused on guaranteeing a mix of residents, from small studios for recent graduates and the elderly to three-bedroom units for larger families or multi-family households.
When asked about whether the lack of parking will hinder the businesses, a Port spokesperson boasted, "We are confident that this will prove to be an attractive enough destination that people will make it here in any way possible. For those that have to drive, there are numerous parking garages within several blocks of the site that should be sufficient. But we encourage everyone to leave the car at home and come enjoy the beer."
Not stopping at the beer industry, the Port also intends to install converted shipping containers along the Boardwalk, all of which will be available for rent on very favorable terms by local businesses, including artists, restaurants, coffee roasters, and anything else that people could imagine. Inspired by the Quartyard in the East Village, the Port envisions the shipping containers as a fitting tribute to the working port while also creating new ground for startup businesses. Some of the containers will be double deckers, with small living quarters above the shops for those that need a place to live as well. To ensure that local businesses are prominent and the shops remain vibrant, the tenants will be selected by a panel of local citizens and the leases will be limited to four years. After that, the businesses will have to move out on their own.
The shipping containers will also surround the new plaza adjacent to the tasting room, normally full of tables for eating and drinking, but easily converted to an open plaza for large events. High above the large doors of the tasting room opening out onto the plaza, the tasting room will boast a large, high definition LED screen, capable of showing family movies at night and also providing a public viewing area for sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, away games for the Padres and Chargers, and the World Cup.
When considered as a whole, the new Seaport Village will allow residents and tourists alike to ride the Trolley, or walk or bike from any of the hotels, offices, and condos downtown, to a central site to enjoy a beer, grab a bite to eat, shop at amazing small shops, and enjoy the park and beach. Located close to the Convention Center and Petco Park, it is likely that experiencing the new Seaport Village will be a highlight for everyone visiting San Diego. As a City representative summarized, "This new site will really capture the spirit of San Diego all in one location. We can't wait for it to open."