Arena builders

Proposals for San Diego Sports Arena Site Now Heading to Elimination Stage

Members of the San Diego City Council, along with the public, will soon be able to weigh in on the five development teams seeking to redo the site of the city’s sports arena in the Midway neighborhood with thousands of apartments and a venue. new or remodeled entertainment.

The proponent teams, which are battling to secure a long-term ground lease for the 48-acre property that currently houses Pechanga Arena, are expected to present their plans to the city’s Land Use and Housing Committee on April 21 in 1 p.m. The public forum will start a process of elimination and serve as the most important test yet for the neighborhood definition plans that have transformed over the past few months.

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“The next step will be for the staff to come up with a recommendation (to shortlist some of the teams),” said Penny Maus, who heads the city’s real estate and airport management department. “We will first take the recommendation to the Land Use and Housing Committee, get their feedback before moving on to the full council.”

The committee and council have the option to accept, modify or reject the staff recommendation, she said. The recommendation will become public once staff documents, including redacted versions of the offers, are posted next to the April 21 hearing agenda, likely two weeks before the meeting.

The San Diego Real Estate Department – in a second attempt to offload land at 3500, 3250, 3220 and 3240 Sports Arena Blvd. – strictly follows new state guidelines for leasing or selling excess land, as set forth by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The watchdog agency was tasked with enforcing the Surplus Land Act, which was amended in 2019 to require municipalities to give preference to affordable housing builders when offloading their surplus land.

In October, the City of San Diego issued what is called a “readiness notice,” alerting builders to the redevelopment opportunity. The notice included a requirement that at least 25% of proposed housing units be restricted by deed for low-income families, and included a development condition to replace or renovate the existing sports arena. Seven teams responded to the notice, although two were deemed insufficient and eliminated.

Qualifying teams—Discovery Midway, HomeTownSD, Midway Rising, Midway Village+, and Neighborhood Next—provide dense, planned communities with housing, retail, office space, parks, an arena, and, in some cases, sports facilities or additional hotels. Each participated in a state-required 90-day negotiation period that ended March 4.

Now city staff, after consulting with the state oversight agency, are ready to narrow the number of applicants.

The first round of cuts will center on the state’s definition of affordable housing, that is, units reserved by convention for families who earn 80% or less of the area’s median income, or AMI. Currently, the median income for a family of four in San Diego is $95,100.

San Diego should prioritize teams with the most affordable units.

“We are following the guidelines of the Surplus Land Act, and that requires that we first ensure that teams offer 25% or more of their homes as affordable. In this case, all teams offered at least 25%. Thus, the second level of preference, under the Surplus Land Act guidelines, is the number of (affordable) units. And beyond that, the third level of preference is the deepest level of affordability,” Maus said. “We looked at all of those things, and that weighed heavily on the recommendations that we will come forward with.”

In the final weeks of the trading period, some of the development teams revised their plans to include more homes at 80% or less of the MAI.

  • Discover Midway, led by Brookfield Properties, did not provide the number of units it currently proposes to offer at 80% or less of the AMI. The team previously said the plan called for 1,046 units in the threshold and a total of 3,277 units.
  • HomeTownSD, led by Monarch Group and Essex Property Trust, offers 1,726 units at 80% or less of the AMI, a spokeswoman said. The team’s plan calls for a total of 3,250 units.
  • Midway Rising, led by Zephyr Partners, did not provide the number of units it proposes to offer at 80% or less of the AMI. The team previously said the plan calls for a total of 4,000 units.
  • Midway Village+, run by Toll Brothers Housing, offers 1,610 units at 80% or less of the AMI, a spokesperson said. The team’s plan now calls for a total of 4,210 units.
  • Neighborhood Next, run by ConAm Group, offers 1,350 units at 80% or less of the AMI, a spokesperson said. The team’s plan calls for a total of 5,400 units.

Once the city council narrows the field of bidders, staff will engage in a second round of negotiations that will focus on the financial and operational capacity of the remaining teams, Maus said. It expects to recommend a winning bidder by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Planning Department is simultaneously moving ahead with a repeated attempt to lift the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District, as all plans include buildings that exceed the limit. In December, a court order invalidated the voter-approved ballot measure that removed the restriction.

Last week, the city officially announced that it will prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report to the Midway-Pacific Freeway Community Plan Update, which means it will study the impact of taller buildings. in the 1,324 acre Midway area. The action lays the groundwork for a do-over ballot measure before voters, potentially as early as November.