(888) 277-4253

Shovels hit ground on San Diego's new Central Library

SAN DIEGO -- This was a historic moment for America’s Finest City – a moment where decades of hard work finally paid off.

I presided over the ceremonial groundbreaking of a new state-of-the-art central library, a $185 million centerpiece of learning and civic engagement that will be built without any money from the city’s operating budget.

I couldn’t be prouder of the countless people who have spent so much time and energy on making sure we arrived at this day. Our work will pay dividends for future generations of San Diegans.

I was joined by numerous supporters of the new library, including Joan and Dr. Irwin Jacobs (who have pledged $20 million toward the project) along with dozens of other public figures and dignitaries, including former mayors Dick Murphy, Susan Golding and Pete Wilson.

Not a penny of the money that will pay for this project could have been used for branch libraries or any other city services.

The financing breakdown: $80 million in redevelopment money; a $20 million state library grant; $20 million from the San Diego Unified School District, which will use two floors for a charter school; and $63 million in private donations (of which more than $30 million has already been raised).

The nine-story building -- scheduled to open in 2013 -- will serve as the heart of the city’s 35-branch library system and will be a new regional center for learning and literacy.

It will have 400 computer workstations, free Wi-Fi access, a cafe and multiple community gathering spaces for events ranging from book readings to art displays and music performances.

Its 295,000 square feet will be more than twice the size of the current central library. An additional 76,000-plus square feet will be used for a charter school that will occupy the library’s sixth and seventh floors.

Another 129,000 square feet will be used for underground parking.

Among the library’s numerous other features, it will utilize on-site solar power for some of its energy needs. The project will also create some 1050 construction jobs.

I’m confident the new building will spur additional redevelopment in the neighborhood.

My congratulations to all the people who worked years – and, in some cases, decades – to make this day possible.

(See video tour of proposed construction plans)