San Diego CA— After sitting empty for over seven years, the Mission Bay Visitor Information Center in San Diego, California, located just off the I-5 at 2688 E. Mission Bay Drive, is getting a new lease on life. Built in 1969 by local architect Richard Lareau, the building originally served as the go-to spot for visitors to purchase tickets, pick up maps with area attractions, make hotel reservations or rent a bike by the bay. In 2010, the Information Center closed due to an increase in visitors using the internet to find relevant travel information.
The Mission Bay Visitor Information Center is now slated for renovation by ‘playground concepts‘, a boutique design and development firm focused on restaurant and hospitality projects, led by locals Bradley Schnell, Greg Van de Velde and Kristine Schnell. Helming the design of the project is playground, a local design firm owned by husband and wife team Bradley and Kristine Schnell. Van de Velde, a current partner in Bottega Americano and former General Manager of Bottega Americano and Mister A’s, will manage all aspects of restaurant operations to ensure the legacy of hospitality and welcoming spirit of the Information Center continues to live on.
“Our team is excited for the opportunity to reinvigorate this iconic San Diego building with new life,” said Kristine Schnell, Creative Director, playground concepts. “It’s a space that holds fond memories for many San Diegans and we are looking forward to creating memories here for the next generation.”
The project is slated break ground later this year and will include a counter-service restaurant with local wine and beer on tap, grab-and-go picnic arrangements, as well as a walk-up coffee and juice bar for early morning joggers and cyclists. Also in the works is a space for private events and bay front weddings, beach and bike rentals, as well as a small retail component and children’s play area.
“The redevelopment of the vacant San Diego Visitor Information Center at Mission Bay will make this landmark once again into a destination point that will be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike,” said Real Estate Assets Department Director Cybele Thompson. “Future generations will be able to indulge in waterfront dining next to Mission Bay, rent and purchase beach supplies and bicycles, and visit the new Mission Bay Park public information center.”
The site was put out to RFP by the City of San Diego Real Estate Assets Department on October 26, 2015. In February 2016, playground concepts was formally selected out of several dozen proposals from reputable real estate development firms by the City of San Diego, the San Diego Planning Commission and numerous community support groups to redevelop this highly visible property for the benefit of all of San Diego. Matt Davis of global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s San Diego-based team, The Land Group, represents playground concepts.
Matt Davis said, “We enjoyed working with the City of San Diego Real Estate Assets and Park and Recreation departments through the RFP process and look forward to seeing this iconic City asset undergo this progressive transformation to become once again a fun, entertaining public amenity for the entire community.”
The building, shaped like a seashell, is a unique example of California organic modernism architecture, originally designed by notable San Diego architect Richard Lareau. Lareau, now retired, is consulting on the project to ensure renovations conform to the original design intent of the building.