by Aldona Charlton
It's the perfect city with the perfect climate, but San Diego won't rest on its laurels.
Wherever you go in the 17-plus incorporated cities of San Diego County, stretching from the Mexican border to just south of Los Angeles, cranes and jackhammers are busy redefining the landscape. Within the downtown area alone, sleek modern residential towers are springing up amidst restored Victorian classics, enticing residents back to urban green living in a diverse cultural environment where cars could become obsolete.
Smart Corner, a recently opened 19-story residential tower, sits by the relocated San Diego Trolley's College Station. Parking is underground, for those who can't quite give up their auto dependence. If you prefer walking, a newly constructed linear park along Harbour Drive offers a gracious promenade lined by small landscaped parks and elegant sculpture gardens.
The most ambitious project, of which Smart Corner is a major element, plans to link San Diego Bay to Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, encompassing 1,200 lush acres and containing 85 cultural attractions including 15 museums, eight gardens and the renowned San Diego Zoo. Called the Park-to-Bay Link, the project will feature a tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly walkway complete with a suspension bridge along a newly redesigned 12th Avenue, where the building of Petco Park (home of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres) sparked the rebirth of the East Village section of downtown in 2004. The project should be completed in early 2008.
Not to be outdone, the enormous convention center, beside picturesque San Diego Bay and just across Harbour Drive from the historic Gaslamp Quarter, is attracting even larger hotels (among them a 1,190-room Hilton scheduled to open in late 2008, and the 20-story Spinnaker Hotel with its own ferry/water taxi) to house the ever-growing convention crowd. An iconic symbol on the Pacific Shore, the Convention Center's tall white billowing sails mimic the shape of the myriad boats on San Diego Bay. A broad walkway along the shore stretches through the shopping/dining destination of Seaport Village to the cruise ship terminals and the USS Midway Museum beyond.
A few minutes from downtown, Mission Park and Pacific Beach beckon beachgoers and surfers, while La Jolla entices with its craggy coastline and Mediterranean ambience. Wherever you choose to spend your time in San Diego, you can be sure it will be perfect.