Parks and Rec

What Was Up Goes Down

You can’t always say that about a parking lot, but that is the case at the County Administration Center downtown.

What was once a huge parking lot to the south side of the historic building is now buried underground. The new space measures 96,000 square feet and boasts 250 parking spaces and 178 public spaces, the same number as before. The bigger news is what will happen next. What was down now goes up. Much of the soil underneath the old parking lot will now be used to create the ground floor for an expansive waterfront park.   

“Next spring, we hope to open the Waterfront Park in its entirety with what we call the Jewel on the Bay, the County Administration Center, at the center of a beautiful park setting encompassing 15 acres and an 830-foot-long fountain and promenade,” said Chairman Greg Cox.

Chairman Cox joined his fellow supervisors at a grand opening celebration of the underground garage Tuesday. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a milestone.

“Now work begins on a long-held dream to transform what were once two parking lots into a public park with shade trees, public art, theme gardens and the aforementioned fountain with water jets that will shoot up about 14 feet,”said Supervisor Ron Roberts.   

“Parks are an investment in healthy, safe recreation and increased quality of life,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “The total price tag is $47.4 million but thanks to the County’s strong credit ratings, we’re paying for $30 million at a finance rate under five percent. The rest, $17.4 million was paid for in cash.”     

In keeping with all new County construction projects, the park is being built with the environment in mind.

“One example is just beneath my feet. The underground parking garage will use low-energy LEDS and fluorescent lights,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts. “The park’s fountain will recycle all the water it uses to avoid waste and the themed gardens will use drought-tolerant plants.”

The ceremonial opening of the garage took place Tuesday, but the garage will open to members of the public who have business at the County Administration Center Monday, Sept. 30. The south side entrance to the County Administration Center will reopen and the north building entrance and parking lot will close.  

“So the groundwork for this amazing new Waterfront Park has been completed,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “Now we can watch the transformation of this dirt lot, and the asphalt parking lot to the north of us, begin to flower with trees, theme gardens, public art, the promenade and the real show-stopper, that 830-foot-long fountain.”

To think, it all started with what was up, going down.  

Waterfront Park Project Videos

Health Building Demolition Signals Waterfront Park’s Start
Palms and a Pit
Waterfront Park Project Goes Deep
The First Floor Pour
This Will Soon Disappear

Below: An artist’s rendering shows the planned layout of the completed park.




Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact