Freedom Park on Navy Pier
As part of efforts to increase park and plaza space throughout the entire North Embarcadero, the Port of San Diego and USS Midway Museum are working in close collaboration with the California Coastal Commission to convert Navy Pier into a new public park. The Midway proposes to call the park Freedom Park, with nods to San Diego's military history throughout.
Freedom Park Design
Freedom Park will be designed to connect with the adjacent park areas surrounding the Midway, including areas along the promenade and extending into G Street Mole to the Bob Hope Memorial, resulting in the largest veterans park on the West Coast. Generally, the five-acre park will include pedestrian pathways around and through the park, landscaping, enhanced paving, benches, play structures, memorials and monuments, coastal access and interpretive signage, signage, restrooms, concessionaire, and parking. See additional conceptual renderings below.
Park features are proposed to include:
- Wide public promenade along north side of pier to connect the east and west ends with well-connected pathways and trails throughout the entire park with educational programming elements incorporated
- Low seat wall with turf mound for sitting, picnic and active use
- Landscape screening of interior parking area
- Seating and bike parking along promenade
- Public restroom/comfort station
- Plantings that emphasize California natives or plant species indigenous to the region, allowing for non-native, non-invasive shade trees
- Signage to invite and welcome public to access the public park
- Seating & Shade: five swings, one large and two smaller shade structures, interactive play structures and other themed elements similar to those at Tunnel Tops Park in San Francisco, and 10 benches
- Movable furniture and fencing along the north side of the pier in areas reserved for support of water-dependent berthing functions
- Monuments: John Finn Memorial (San Diego native, first Medal of Honor recipient in WWII), Family Homecoming at end of pier, Navy Supply Corp Foundation history of Navy Pier
- Flagpole memorial at west end of pier
- Creation of a mobile phone microsite (or similar) dedicated to the history of the pier, the Midway, and San Diego Bay; mobile application will also compliment interpretive signage incorporated into the park on the pier and the existing park space in the surrounding area
- Up to an approximately 1,000 square foot-pavilion for a snack concessionaire limited to low-cost offerings to be located in the southwestern portion of the pier
- Three scenic vista areas adjacent to the Midway: G Street Mole, Navy Pier and Broadway Pier.
- Freedom Park will be open to the general public during park hours for at least 85 percent of the year. Permitted temporary large special events that limit public access (i.e., exclude the public or require admission for entry) to Freedom Park shall not exceed 15 percent of the year. The 15 percent allowance shall be distributed throughout the year and special events may only take place on one side of the park on a single day such that the other side of the park remains open to the public. During all programmed events, the promenade on the northern side of Freedom Park, the north park area, restrooms, low-cost concessioner, and parking lot shall be open and accessible to the public at all times. Standard Port park operating hours are 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily as listed in District Port Code Section 8.02(b)(7).
Coastal Development Permit
On February 9, 2023, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to issue a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to the Port of San Diego and USS Midway Museum (Midway) for the project. The CDP allows for demolition of the headhouse structure at the entrance to the pier, structural repairs/rehabilitation on and under the pier in the vicinity of the demolished headhouse, and then construction of the park. A structural pile improvement project is currently underway beneath the pier. The Port anticipates starting demolition of the headhouse building in early 2024, followed by additional structural improvements on and under the pier, and subsequently construction of Freedom Park. The park’s opening is anticipated for 2028.
Memorandum of Understanding
After many years of collaboration among Port staff, the Midway, and Coastal staff, the Board of Port Commissioners authorized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on April 12, 2022 memorializing the plan to convert Navy Pier into a park and each party’s commitments.
- Port contributes $11.7 million, via Port Economic Recovery Program funding made available through the American Rescue Plan Act, for structural pile improvements
- Midway contributes at least $30 million for headhouse demo, pier reinforcement, and full park buildout
- The two parties will split ongoing maintenance costs
- Midway will have naming rights for the park (subject to approval by the Port’s Executive Director)
Current estimates for design and construction of all project components total $64.5 million in investment into the conversion of the pier to Freedom Park.
San Diego's "Front Porch"
The Port looks forward to delivering an exciting new public park – and improving public access – on the North Embarcadero, the Port’s most visible and public waterfront often 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:
- Portside Pier with first-rate views of San Diego Bay from public viewing areas and four Brigantine restaurants – Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Grill & Taps, and Portside Coffee & Gelato.
- BRIC – a lifestyle destination at Broadway and Pacific that includes the Intercontinental San Diego hotel and two Marriott hotels as well as restaurants and retail.
- North Embarcadero Visionary Plan – improvements included Lane Field Park, which is dedicated to and named after the field where the original Pacific Coast League Padres played from 1936-1957; Carnitas Snack Shack; a widened public esplanade lined with lush jacaranda trees; iconic public art, café building, entertainment and information centers, and even the public restroom building; the “Grand Hall” along West Broadway; and more.