The Brigantine's concept for what is now Anthony's Fish Grotto. Courtesy Port of San Diego
The Brigantine’s concept for what is now Anthony’s Fish Grotto. Courtesy Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to open negotiations with The Brigantine Inc. to lease and renovate the iconic Anthony’s Fish Grotto site on the downtown waterfront.

Port staffers recommended The Brigantine Inc., which operates six seafood restaurants in San Diego County, to take over the 16,600-square-foot space at 1360 N. Harbor Drive.

They said an initial proposal submitted by the Brigantine scored the highest of six respondents, which included those from Anthony’s seafood restaurant and Sunroad Enterprises.

Anthony’s has leased the space since 1965, but the deal is set to expire Jan. 31, 2017, according to a staff report.

“The San Diego destination deserves a world-class restaurant anchor at this prominent site — one that showcases the unique location, attracts people to the waterfront and promotes the culture and beauty of our region,” said Port CEO Randa Coniglio.

“The port team used a rigorous procurement process to compare the advantages of several excellent redevelopment proposals for this restaurant site,” she said.

Brigantine has proposed operating four eateries on the site: Brigantine seafood restaurant; Miguel’s Cocina, a Mexican food chain also owned by Brigantine; Ketch Grill & Taps, a casual walk-up, dine-in and take-out grill that offers local craft beers and spirits; and Portside Gelato & Coffee, which would include coffee and espresso from San Diego roaster Cafe Moto.

The proposal also included a public viewing deck and an expanded dock- and-dine facility.

A staff report said a supplemental proposal and financial terms offered by the Brigantine make it the best option. The commissioners voted 4-2 to accept the recommendation, with Commissioners Robert Valderrama and Marshall Merrifield dissenting and Rafael Castellanos recusing himself.

Brigantine plans to invest at least $13 million into the project and pay a minimum annual rent of $1.1 million, which staff rated the best financial deal of the three finalists, or $1.6 million higher than the others over a 10- year period.

Staff will now open negotiations and begin the environmental review process. An eventual lease contract and EIR would require final board approval.

— City News Service