Manchester teams with Fairmont on 36-story bay-view hotel in downtown San Diego

A proposed 36-story, 1,150-room hotel to be located a block from downtown San Diego’s waterfront will be managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the luxury chain announced this week.

The partnership forged with developer Doug Manchester marks the second Fairmont hotel for San Diego. Manchester’s Carmel Valley hotel — the Grand Del Mar — was the first collaboration and has consistently earned top ratings among the lodging industry’s more prestigious travel organizations.

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Manchester Financial Group revealed last October that it is moving forward with the $550 million project, planned for a nearly 2-acre parcel between Pacific Highway and N. Harbor Drive. The site represents the last remaining property that Manchester controls out of the original 12-acre site that his company entitled years ago as a mega mixed-use development, formerly known as the Navy Broadway Complex located south of Broadway between Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive.

Two years ago, IQHQ real estate investment group purchased the bulk of Manchester’s leasehold as part of its plan to build a $1.6 billion life science city on the bay that it’s calling the San Diego Research and Development District. It also is building a long-planned 1.5-acre public park adjoining the hotel site.

“We’re excited to have Fairmont on board,” said Ted Eldredge, president of Manchester Financial Group. “There hasn’t been a new hotel built on the waterfront since the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Fairmont is a good operator and they’ve done well in Austin with our hotel there. For the most part, they’re a resort operator, so it’s fun that they’re also doing a good job on these big box hotels.”

The Fairmont Manchester San Diego, as the hotel will be known, will be the largest Fairmont in the United States, the hospitality company said. Besides being a block away from the bay, it is situated across from the USS Midway Aircraft Museum and is within walking distance of the convention center and Gaslamp Quarter.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work again with our partners at Manchester Financial Group to bring another landmark property to life,” Mark Willis, CEO of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts said in a statement. “Opening as our largest-to-date Fairmont in the US, this project represents an incredible opportunity to bring the signature luxury experience for which Fairmont is known around the globe, on an unprecedented scale and magnitude to downtown San Diego.”

While the financing of hotel construction is currently challenging and costly given the shaky economy, Eldredge remains hopeful that the Fairmont could be under construction by as early as the end of this year should the Manchester Financial Group be successful in securing financing this year.

San Diego-based Gensler is designing the hotel, which will have an all-glass facade accented with bronze and gold tones.

The hotel will feature a number of amenities, including a luxury spa and fitness facility, rooftop pool and more than 120,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including two 20,000 square-foot ballrooms. Six dining venues are planned, including a 160-seat signature restaurant, noodle shop, rooftop poolside grill, gourmet café, and lobby bar.