Port district and Chula Vista city leaders have approved a resolution calling for the development of a $969.3 million, 1,450-room convention hotel project, deemed the linchpin for long-sought commercial development of the Chula Vista bayfront.
Meeting jointly on June 20, the Unified Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners and Chula Vista City Council each unanimously approved a non-binding letter of intent with Houston-based RIDA Development Corp. for development of the project. Several city and port officials called the moment a “major milestone” after more than 20 years of discussion aimed at developing 550 acres of port-controlled land along Chula Vista’s waterfront.
The developer was chosen from among several that submitted concepts as part of the port’s proposal process in 2014. RIDA officials are in talks with Gaylord Hotels, a subsidiary of Marriott International, to open a Gaylord-branded hotel that would also have 275,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, retail and resort amenities, and 1,500 public parking spaces.
Officials said construction could begin by late 2019 after the project receives all of its necessary local and state approvals, with a targeted opening in 2022. An exact construction timetable, along with the financing mechanism and terms of a ground lease between the developer and port district are yet to be finalized.
The resolution approved by port and Chula Vista officials includes a preliminary financing agreement under which RIDA and its financial partners would pay for approximately $688 million out of the project’s total cost of $969.3 million. A public joint powers authority, to include port and city officials, will be responsible for financing the remaining $281.3 million, including $225 million for the hotel and $56.3 million for required infrastructure. The public’s portion is expected to be financed primarily through the issuance of bonds.
The convention hotel has long been deemed a necessary catalyst to create additional long-range commercial, residential and recreational projects along the waterfront. Officials have projected that the Chula Vista waterfront at full build-out would have more than $1 billion in new investments by multiple developers.
According to the port district and its consultants, the Gaylord hotel project on its own is expected to create a total of 3,100 construction jobs and 3,700 permanent jobs. It would also create a $1.2 billion economic impact during construction and a $390 million impact annually once it’s in operation.
Officials said the San Diego County regional impact, with ripple results from the hotel’s operations, would include a total of 16,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $1.7 billion.