A legal appeal to stop ex–Union-Tribune publisher and Donald Trump moneyman Douglas Manchester from building his so-called Navy Broadway Complex on downtown's waterfront has been spurned by the U.S. Supreme Court, a move that could open the way for the big office and hotel project to proceed under control of a new Republican administration eager to put its construction timeline on steroids.
The $1.3 billion commercial and governmental project received a green light on March 30 of this year when a three-judge panel of the federal Ninth District appeals court voted 2-1 against a lawsuit alleging that the Navy had not fully evaluated the impact of possible terrorism at its prominent downtown site.
"Specifically, the panel held that the Navy considered the relevant factors in its 'hard look' at potential terrorism at the Navy Broadway Complex. The panel also held that the federal defendants did not abuse their discretion in determining that there was no significant impact from the possible environmental effects of potential terrorism at the Navy Broadway Complex, and a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was not required," per a summary of the decision.
The government "could have, and should have, considered the environmental impact of at least a few attack scenarios at the Complex," wrote dissenting senior district judge James G. Carr.
He noted that the environmental report had been revised following public comments regarding potential terrorism, but "those revisions only strengthened the Complex’s defenses against a potential terrorist attack; they did not assess the likely environmental impact of such an attack."
After the ruling, Cory Briggs, attorney for the plaintiff in the case, the San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, vowed to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
“Against a new backdrop of constant threats from terrorist attack, it is essential to analyze the risks posed by a project that proposes to locate an unsecured high-rise naval headquarters and unsecured high-rise civilian buildings next to each other, right on downtown San Diego’s waterfront, only a few blocks from an international airport and literally right across a two-lane street from the port’s newest cruise-ship terminal,” said the plaintiff’s appeal.
In a December 12 notice posted online, the court announced it had decided not to take up the case.
"We're going to remobilize and start working diligently to position ourselves to commence at the end of the year," Manchester aide Perry Dealy told the Union-Tribune following the March ruling in favor of the project.
"You can't just flip the switch in five seconds," he added. "We have to get everybody lined up — it's a huge project and we've got a lot of components to it."
Whether the new administration may go out of its way to assist the development remains to be seen.
Federal campaign financial disclosure records show that on September 14 Dealy contributed $1000 to the Trump for President campaign, and the same to the Trump Victory committee. Manchester gave $399,400 to Trump Victory on June 21.
The developer has a 99-year lease on the bayfront property.