Gallagher says the project’s critics are “people who know so little.” He says it will take much less than a billion dollars to build the deck. “We hired the number-one engineering firm in the world.” The adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel on the site of the former Campbell Shipyards, subsidized by the port, is on the same kind of land as his proposed deck. He insists that any use of the ground floor would be for “traffic vehicles that will come in at the lower level.” He says he approached the Burlington Northern: “You might as well try to get an audience with the Pope. The railroad is not giving up one cubic inch of air rights.” Arguments against the project — such as that the Navy might depart in a huff — are “laughable, ludicrous.”
Gallagher says the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal brings in a very small amount of cargo; the National City Marine Terminal does the heavy lifting. But McCormack says that Tenth Avenue is critical because it brings in goods that don’t fit into containers, and the big West Coast ports specialize in containers. And the tonnage at Tenth and National City are about equal, she says. Gallagher says National City handles much more tonnage. Employment is not that different: National City has 995 employees and Tenth Avenue 822, according to Gallagher’s numbers.
Gallagher and Chase are managing members of the group that’s promoting the project, “and we are definitely raising capital from others,” Gallagher says. “But the first thing is to get the initiative passed,” and then talk with those who have an interest in the project, such as residents of Barrio Logan. You can bet that local groups promoting sports corporate welfare will be solicited.
Sums up Erie, “This $2 billion gift in such a short time frame is a perversion of the initiative process. It is a scam. San Diego has never met a developer it doesn’t like.”