Characterized as "the last piece in the puzzle" for Chula Vista bayfront redevelopment, a land swap between the San Diego Unified Port District and developer Pacifica Holdings has been approved by the district and the City of Chula Vista.

The port district, the city and other stakeholders have been working on a plan for the 550-acre Chula Vista bayfront since 2003. The project received a major setback in late 2008, when Gaylord Entertainment dropped its plans for a large convention center and 2,000-room resort hotel on the site (see CP&DR In Brief, December 2008; Local Watch, October 2006). Very tentative proposals to use a portion of the land for a San Diego Chargers football stadium failed to gain traction.

Under the deal approved on February 2, Pacifica will trade 97 acres it owns near Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and Chula Vista Nature Center for 35 acres the port district owns near J Street. In addition, the government agencies approved an agreement establishing a 1,200-foot buffer between potential new residences on the former port property and the existing Goodrich Aerostructures industrial operation. According to backers, the deal directs development to a more appropriate location away from sensitive habitat, while also preserving industrial uses.

"We just took two enormous steps ahead," Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said. "This is a massive opportunity and the step to the next step."

Still, Chula Vista bayfront redevelopment remains a ways off. The master plan needs approval by the port district, the city and the Coastal Commission, and an environmental impact report must be certified. The bayfront master plan is available on the port district website.