800 (Ugly) Hotel Rooms Being Added to Lane Field

Posted on August 15, 2012 | by Denny Oh

For years now, developers have been trying to put a plan together to build a couple of hotels on the historic Lane Field in downtown San Diego.  Lane Field is where the Padres played from 1936-1957 (named after then manager, Bill Lane) before they moved to Fashion Valley.  Due to the economic downturn/recession/crash…all of this was put on hold.

Recently, the Union Tribune published an article that shed some light on the most recent plans.  Sadly, it doesn’t look like Lane Field will be  very exciting, iconic, or positive.  The architect and developers (John Portman & AssociatesPhelps Development and Lankford & Associates) have revised their plans to accomodate the park space that has been added to the requirements for the space and have proposed a smaller hotel design.  The current plan consists of three hotels, in which the first phase ($115M) consists of a 20 and a 14 story building, with unknown size for the third hotel.  The article did say that the first two hotels would have 250 and 150 rooms, limiting the third building to no more than 20 stories and 400 rooms.

Based on the designer’s rendering, the building looks like a “series of 1960s-like rectangular office blocks” (quote from the UT article) and in my opinion, pretty terrible.  I supposed it is iconic, but not in a good way and based on the readers’ comments, I’m not the only one who feels this way.  To quote just a few readers, the proposal has been described as a “Motel 6 at Lane Field,” a “Borg cube“(I had to look this one up) and “banal, uninspired.”  I’m not sure it’s that bad, but it’s definitely not something that’s going to make people think of San Diego (think Sydney’s opera house, not the St Louis Gateway arch), or get excited to visit.

According to the article, “the recession prompted a downgrading of the hotel from a four- or five-star project to one starting with a two-keyed concept along the lines of a Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites.”  To Reiterate what the readers said, I don’t think we should building something just to build it. If the economy can’t support something that will positively identify and promote downtown, then maybe now is not the time to build a pair of ok/ugly looking, ok quality hotels.

The final plans are expected to be approved by September of 2013, with the construction (of phase 1) done by 2015.  It may be approved/completed sooner, but I’m guessing there will be a fair amount of opposition and we won’t see it by 2015.  For more info on Lane Field, please visit the Port Authority’s board meeting schedule here.  Hopefully people will realize how few opportunities we have left to make downtown San Diego a great(er) city and won’t let nearsightedness, or impatience, lessen America’s Finest City.


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