Chula Vista BayfrontA redevelopment deal that would have erased decades of failure to build up the Chula Vista bayfront, and maybe make the city a big player in the national convention business, is dead.
Citing an inability to reach an agreement with local unions after more than a year of negotiations, Gaylord Entertainment said last week that it will no longer pursue a plan to build a $1 billion hotel and convention center on the city’s long-vacant bayfront.
Just months ago the Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox had called Gaylord’s plan “the most realistic and realizable plan for the bayfront that I’ve seen in more than 30 years.” Today Cox and other city officials joined Gaylord in blaming the unions for the deal’s demise, while local union leaders along Re. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, are blaming Gaylord’s intractable negotiating stance and Cox’s poor leadership.

Since Gaylord approached Chula Vista in 2005, city and Port of San diego officials have touted the project’s potential benefit as a 10percent boost in city revenue, 3,000 new permanent jobs and a springboard for other commercial and residential development. South Bay leaders have tried but failed since the early 1970s to clean up and develop the 550 acres of largely port owned bayfront. Gaylord’s project would have been huge, with up to 2,000 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of convention space that would have bordered new public parks.

Gaylor’s demice of the deal has left with regret the local leaders as well as Mike Bixler, the Port Commissioner but they remain hopefull that another developer will come along for Chula Vista.

Possible candidates could include JMI Realty and Manchester Resorts, both of which had submitted bids that lost out to Gaylord’s. The San Diego Chargers could also be a candidate as is currently looking for sites for a new statdium and has focused on land in Chula Vista and Oceanside.

Port Commission charwoman Sylvia Ross issued a statement in which she said the anouncement was “devastating” but she won’t give up.

We must now look to the future”, Rios said. “It is only prudent that the port and the city of Chula Vista begin a review of alternatives to attract another anchor project that will act as an economic catalyst for the bayfront plan.”

UPDATE 12/23/2007: The Chargers have been eyeing two sites in Chula Vista for a new stadium and are zeroing in on the Chula Vista’s bayfront site. In one potential scenario to help finance the $1 billion project, the Chargers came up with the idea for the San Diego State University to open a branch campus on the eastern Chula Vista side. The Chargers plan to formally tell the city in January that they would like to pay for a financial study on building a stadium on the Chula Vista’s bayfront site.