By Jeff Clemetson | Editor
On June 6, the city of San Diego held a workshop for the future river park at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center where tentative designs were revealed and input from the public was encouraged.
The future park is part of a complete overhaul of the dated resort, which will also include housing, a parking garage and a makeover of the hotel. The park will be 4.33 acres along 7.71 acres of restored river habitat, much of it replacing current asphalt parking areas, and it will be situated on both sides of the pedestrian bridge that currently connects the Town and Country property to the Fashion Valley Transit Center and the mall.
“Today, where the location of the public park is, it’s a heavily-urbanized, certainly degraded environment, so we’re taking that and really converting it into something that looks like Mission Valley’s Central Park,” said Todd Majcher, vice president of Lowe Enterprises, which is the lead developer on the the Town and Country project.
Principal designer Richard Barrett shared three potential design concepts, each based on separate themes. The final design, he said, may end up being a mix of some or all of them, or even contain new ones brought forth by the public.
The first concept incorporated the theme of “agricultural valley” — a nod to Mission Valley’s agrarian past.
“For over 200 years, Mission Valley was agricultural; from mid-1700s and before during Native American use of the valley, through European development and up to the 1940s,” Barrett said.
This concept includes amenities like shade structures and pavers designed to resemble crop fields. Some areas would include things like slews for children to play with and core tin walls for sitting.
The “upside down river” concept highlights the natural features of the San Diego River, which is deep in some area, shallow in others and subject to flooding as it winds down to the ocean. Design elements include concrete “lily pads,” walls that mimic the river geology, and curving benches that imitate the serpentine shape of the river.
The third design is based on urban flooding. Barrett said the conversion of natural open space to impervious surfaces has brought flooding and this design conveys the impacts of that urbanization on the river. The design includes debris motifs and incorporates reclaimed materials.
“What do you see after flooding? Lots of debris, logs that are piled up; you go out there today and you can still see remnants of the flooding in January,” Barrett said.
All three concepts would also incorporate art, as well as signage to help tell the story of the design concepts.
These are only tentative designs, Majcher said, and the final will likely be a mix of the best ideas from all three. As of now, nothing is set, not even the park’s name.
“It shouldn’t be called Town and Country Park,” he said. “[The name] should be tied to something contextual to match the design.”
Majcher said the next chance for the public to view the progress on the park design will “probably” be at the Aug. 3 meeting of the Mission Valley Planning Group.
—Reach Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.