San Diego Business Journal


Jeff Phair

— With the Port Commission and Chula Vista City Council unanimous approval, the Chula Vista bayfront plan is finally coming to fruition. As a third generation Chula Vistan, I share mixed emotions with other community members about this huge project.

Eighty years ago, my grandfather operated a lumberyard on the bayfront. As a youngster, I fished off Gunpowder Point. We hunted for frogs and crawdads in the freshwater ponds. Much of the bayfront was tomato farms.

After Farmer Vener harvested, we would build cardboard forts and have wars using rotten tomatoes as ammunition. In high school, the bayfront had many great secluded places to park with a girlfriend and hunt for snipes. I have great memories of the underdeveloped Chula Vista bayfront.

But change is inevitable. For almost 40 years I have listened to many ideas for development of our bayfront. The goal of good planning is to balance the need to accommodate inevitable growth, without sacrificing our community’s quality of life.

Almost 40 years ago, I was privileged to be a part of the development team that started Eastlake. We held many community meetings and listened to the concerns of the community. We incorporated input from Chula Vista residents. The result was a national award-winning community where residents live, work, shop, and play.

Public-Private Partnership

The developer of the bayfront plan, RIDA Development Corp., has made the same commitment to quality planning and development. The city of Chula Vista, the Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners, and RIDA have worked in good faith for many years to form a unique public-private partnership to create a world-class hotel and convention center with restaurants and entertainment venues.

The $1.1-billion project will include a 1,500-space parking garage, 1,600 hotel rooms and 275,000 feet of event space. The Chula Vista RV resort (Costa Vista RV Resort) will move north of its existing location.

An Economic Engine

The old industrial buildings of Rohr and the ugly power plant will now be replaced by a development that will be an economic engine for our South County, while still providing access to the bay and natural amenities.

It is time for our community to set aside philosophical differences over land use and environmental issues. The time for frog hunting and tomato wars on the bayfront has passed.

It is time for everyone in our community to support RIDA, the Port and the City of Chula Vista in bringing this future vision of a vibrant bayfront to reality.

Jeff Phair is president of The Phair Co., a real estate investment and development company based in Chula Vista.