Papa Doug Manchester: My Thoughts on San Diego’s Downtown Bayfront

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A detail of the planned Manchester Pacific Gateway on the downtown bayfront.

By Papa Doug Manchester

I have spent most of my life in America’s Finest City and have had the wonderful fortune of contributing to downtown San Diego’s beautiful skyline and iconic Bayfront district. Great cities have great downtowns, and over the past several decades San Diego has made tremendous progress in building a downtown culture with the Gaslamp and Little Italy districts, Petco Park and the superstructure that surrounds it, and the ongoing revitalization of our world-class waterfront.

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Personally I am proud to have developed the Manchester Hyatt, Marriott, revitalize the “Kiss” statue and help bring the USS Midway to the waterfront. Today, this distinguished aircraft carrier is one of San Diego’s largest destinations attracting 1.4 million visitors a year.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership has stated that our downtown is an incredible asset and economic engine for the entire San Diego Region.  Comprising less than one tenth of one percent of the region’s land area, downtown generates 2 percent of the region’s sales tax revenue, 3 percent of the property tax revenue, and a full 28 percent of the region’s transient occupancy tax. These revenues are shared within the region to the benefit of all.

Papa Doug Manchester

We have also witnessed a strong migration of residents to our downtown district. The San Diego region is expected to grow exponentially over the next 40 years. We’ll need to accommodate an additional 1.3 million residents, 400,000 housing units, and 500,000 jobs—and all of the basic services that come with a growing economy. Much of this growth will occur in the downtown area.

Therefore, the more residential we build, the more talent we attract, and the more companies that move back to downtown San Diego. This yields more opportunity for mixed-use developments, Class A office space, hotels and public open space in which we can truly take advantage of a city in which to live, work and play.

Of course, there is always more work that needs to be done. We need to have the Civic Plaza and Civic Theatre redeveloped, Horton plaza reimagined, and new city council offices 750-feet tall. In addition, Seaport Village is due for redevelopment and the Manchester Pacific Gateway project will help to redefine the city skyline, clean up eight blighted city blocks, and extend the waterfront to the downtown community. This will be iconic and one of San Diego’s largest private real estate redevelopments as far as office, hotel and retail.

My goal as a developer is to have a positive influence on the western waterfront and integrate my vision with the San Diego Port Authority in finalizing the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, improving public amenities, adding parks, museums, parking, arts and culture. I believe we have the responsibility to ensure that the bay district remains the most beautiful, accessible and enjoyable in the world, and I am humbled and honored to have an integral part of achieving this vision. I look forward to continuing to watch the success and growth of downtown San Diego and what it will evolve to for years to come.


Douglas “Papa Doug” Manchester is chairman of San Diego-based Manchester Financial Group, which is developing office and hotel properties in San Diego and Austin.

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