‘The Real World: San Diego’ house slated for demolition

The exterior of "The Real World: San Diego" house, as pictured around the time the reality TV series was filmed in 2003. (Crissy Pascual / The San Diego Union Tribune)

The two-story, commercial building overlooking America’s Cup Harbor that housed the season 14 cast of MTV’s “The Real World” in 2003 is expected to be razed as part of the Port of San Diego’s broader redevelopment plan for Driscoll’s Wharf.

The building at 4922 North Harbor Drive, on the eastern portion of Point Loma’s Shelter Island, is said to be a teardown because of its restaurant-style configuration, sunken floors and presumed foundation issues.

As it stands, “The Real World: San Diego” house is slated for demolition in early 2026, after the Port completes an environmental review of proposed changes to the marina.

“That building was the one (at Driscoll’s Wharf) that, after a bunch of due diligence, we realized that there is no useful life left,” said Christian de Manielle, who is the Port’s real estate department manager. “The layout of the building isn’t the greatest for potential commercial fishing sub tenants. And there are some concerns that we have with the improvements of that building, so we decided to direct the tenant to demolish that one.”

Built in the 1980s as part of the commercial fishing marina that later became Driscoll’s Wharf, the as-seen-on-TV, temporary residence served as the longtime home of the Blue Crab Restaurant until it closed in 2002.

Although the property is on Port of San Diego tidelands, where residential uses are not allowed, the agency OK’d the use of the site as a reality TV set because of the short-term nature of the production, said Tom Driscoll, president of Driscoll Inc.

“They came to us,” Driscoll said of The Real World Productions, Inc. proposal. “Some guy shows up from the production company and we immediately went to the Port. … We took it to the board, and the board agreed to do it for a short-term deal.”

The long-running MTV series, which debuted in 1992, popularized the reality TV genre, with each season defined by a different city and a new cast of seven strangers.

For its first San Diego season, the production company made some minor tweaks to the Shelter Island building, which the Port said is 7,747 square feet when counting the outdoor decks.

The production company decorated the former restaurant’s interior with an eclectic, marine theme in most rooms. The group outfitted the space with 30 cameras, according to news articles at the time. A hot tub was added to one of the outdoor decks and a small parking lot was converted into a temporary sand volleyball court. The commercial kitchen, however, was left intact.

The exterior of “The Real World: San Diego” house, as pictured around the time the reality TV series was filmed in 2003. (Crissy Pascual / The San Diego Union Tribune) 

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