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The Port of San Diego and USS Midway Museum have reached an agreement that lays out a plan to fully convert Navy Pier into a new public park, proposed to be called “Freedom Park,” on San Diego Bay’s North Embarcadero.
On April 12, 2022, the Board of Port Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that includes the Port’s commitment of $11.7 million in federal stimulus funding received via the American Rescue Plan Act and the Midway’s contribution of no less than $30 million to the project. The project plans call for the demolition of the headhouse on the pier, completion of pile improvements and pier reinforcements, as well as buildout of the park with amenities reflecting San Diego’s military history, pedestrian walkways around and through the park, landscaping, benches, signage, restrooms, and parking. The full cost of buildout of the park is to be determined as the park is further designed.
“Our agreement with the USS Midway Museum is a major milestone in delivering an exciting new public park – and improving public access – on the North Embarcadero,” said Chairman Dan Malcolm, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “In collaboration with the Midway as well as the California Coastal Commission, we will create a better experience for all who visit our San Diego Bay waterfront.”
“We are very excited to be collaborating with the Port of San Diego on the development of ‘Freedom Park’ on Navy Pier that will create a beautiful public space on the downtown waterfront for San Diegans as well as visitors to America’s Finest City,” said Mac McLaughlin, president and CEO of the USS Midway Museum.
With approval of the MOU, Port staff will continue to collaborate with the Midway and the California Coastal Commission on the details of the design of the park on the approximately 5.7-acre pier. When the schematic design is complete, the Port will process a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) with the California Coastal Commission. The Port anticipates issuance of the CDP in early 2024. Prior to the start of construction, the headhouse will be demolished and pier structural improvements will be completed. The current timeline for park opening is early 2029.
The Port’s most visible and popular public waterfront is the North Embarcadero, considered San Diego’s “front porch.” Converting Navy Pier to a park will add to the various public amenities and development the Port has delivered in the North Embarcadero in recent years: