San Diego port commissioners have approved a staff recommendation favoring Brigantine Inc.’s proposal to redevelop the current downtown waterfront site of the iconic Anthony’s Fish Grotto.
The decision means Anthony’s, a staple on the downtown waterfront since 1946 and located at its current spot since 1965, will be required to vacate the 1360 N. Harbor Drive location when its current 52-year lease with the port district expires in January 2017. Anthony’s will still have its lakeside restaurant in La Mesa, where it has operated since 1961.
At its Nov. 17 meeting, the Board of Port Commissioners voted 4-2 to approve the staff recommendation to enter into final negotiations with San Diego-based Brigantine to develop a multi-venue dining concept called Portside Pier.
Voting to approve the staff recommendation were Commissioners Dan Malcolm, Ann Moore, Bob Nelson and Garry Bonelli. Voting against the measure were Commissioners Robert Valderrama and Marshall Merrifield, with Rafael Castellanos recusing himself from the vote.
The Brigantine plan beat out two other finalists – a complex called The Embarcadero, proposed by San Diego developer Sunroad Enterprises; and a revised project called Embarcadero Landing, put forward by locally headquartered Fish Market Restaurants and the current owners of Anthony’s.
Brigantine plans to invest a minimum of $13 million into Portside Pier, which would include the company-run eateries Brigantine on the Bay and Miguel’s Cocina, along with Ketch Grill & Taps and Portside Gelato & Coffee.
The port district estimates the Brigantine project will generate a minimum of $1.1 million in annual rent. A staff comparison of the three finalists notes that the Brigantine plan also includes a potential future “dock and dine” expansion, allowing boat owners to visit the complex, not found in the other two plans.
Sunroad’s $12 million plan for The Embarcadero included a Stone Brewing craft beer tasting room, along with restaurants Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, Craft & Commerce, Pier Burger and Fish Camp.
The revised $12 million development plan for Embarcadero Landing called for a redesigned Anthony’s and fast-casual Fishette, along with new venues Big Bay Coffee, artisanal eatery Harbor and Ash, an Italian-style bar called Porto Vino and a craft beer and cocktail venue called Topside Lounge.
Port officials are seeking to maximize revenue from long-term commercial leases on prime waterfront properties downtown and interviewed a total of six development teams earlier this year with concepts for the Anthony’s site.
Commissioners in August approved a staff recommendation narrowing the selection down to Brigantine and Sunroad, but amended it to allow the Anthony’s team to revise its earlier redevelopment proposal, following numerous emails and public comments from residents and the business community, seeking to keep Anthony’s on the waterfront.