San Diego’s latest addition to the restaurant scene is a well-orchestrated confluence of top eateries in a historical landmark with bygone days beaming from each corner. My interest was piqued when I knew first hand where this was about to happen.
The former San Diego Police Department headquarters, designed in a Spanish motif from the 1930’s and located near the beautiful bay front is alive with a different type of activity than years past. For over 25 years, the distinctive building with interior courtyard and watch tower stood vacant as progressive development sprung up in and around the downtown area. Knowing this was a prized site, a planned effort was initiated for a piazza style complex while restoring the integrity of the building. Registered with National and California historical sites, an arduous building project began to bring the structure to code while maintaining its heritage.
Selections of just the right tenants was sought after to create a community gathering place for dining, shopping and casual relaxation. Rumored about was that celebrated restaurant Pizzeria Mozzo (Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Nancy Silverton, owners) was opening in the headquarters. I had the chance to ask Mr. Batali about this possibility while visiting his TV show, The Chew. He said the building was being remodeled to certain specifications where the best food could be prepared and it appeared hopeful for the opening. The tenant list grew with more restaurants, clothing, art and variety shops plus a gourmet chocolate store.
I met Jennifer Gordon, Vice President of Marketing for Terramar Retail Centers, developer of the project at the Headquarters for a preview. As I walked the same grounds I did as a young person, having family and friends in the police department, I was filled with nostalgia. Ms. Gordon gave me a tour and showed me the restored jail cells, watch commander’s office, cafeteria and where the patrol cars used to park. I remembered the areas as bustling with busy activity from those who were protecting the city.
Many large and small details have been addressed such as resurfacing the original pavers on the floor and the tile roof looks like it did in years past. The grand opening is Monday, November 18, 2013 and information can be found at www.theheadquarters.com.
Now the police headquarters are in a modern location and the old police headquarters will inspire the storied past for tourists and locals alike.