Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
California: Construction of U.S. Courthouse (San Diego)
January 1999 Developments
In November 1998, following receipt of additional information from the General Services Administration (GSA), the Council objected to GSA's determination that the historic Hotel San Diego could not be reused as part of the San Diego courthouse project. While expressing support for GSA's attempt to coordinate its Section 106 responsibilities with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental statutes, the Council noted that GSA determined the building could not be reused without benefit of an in-depth study, relying instead upon a "preliminary walk through" of the building.
The preferred site for a new U.S. courthouse in San Diego currently proposes demolition of the Hotel San Diego, constructed in 1914 by prominent local developers, the Spreckels Brothers, and their architect, Harrison Albright. The building is one of only three that remain from their collaboration. (Photo courtesy of GSA)
In response, GSA has agreed to initiate an adaptive use study and to include the Council in the review process as the study develops. Council staff will work to ensure that all interested parties are also consulted. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has already contacted GSA and the Council, and representatives of California's Congressional delegation continue to follow the case.
GSA proposes to construct a U.S. Courthouse within the central business district of San Diego. The U.S. District Court presently occupies the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building-Courthouse, a 1970s-era building, in addition to leased space downtown. The preferred site for the new courthouse is adjacent to the Schwartz Federal Building, and the current proposal would require demolition of the Hotel San Diego. Constructed in 1914 by prominent local developers, the Spreckels Brothers, and their architect, Harrison Albright, the Hotel San Diego is one of only three buildings that remain from their collaboration.
The National Trust, the California Preservation Foundation, the Save Our Heritage Organization (the local preservation nonprofit), and the City of San Diego Historical Site Board have raised significant questions concerning GSA's analysis of the potential for reuse of the Hotel San Diego or, indeed, the need for its demolition.
Despite these concerns, consultation between GSA and the California State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) led to the development of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) accepting demolition of the building. Upon receipt of the MOA, the Council requested additional documentation about the scope of GSA's analyses and the involvement of local preservation organizations.
Staff contact: Ralston Cox
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