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New San Diego arena effort rebooted

With San Diego forced to scrap a previous plan to work with a developer on a Pechanga Arena renovation, the city is returning with a revamped plan to redevelop the 48-acre site with enough required affordable housing.

The previous plan, reached after negotiations with multiple bidders, called for Brookfield+ASM Global Development–a partnership between Brookfield Properties and ASM Global, the current operator of Pechanga Arena–to build a new facility as part of the redevelopment of the site, which would also include 2,100 housing units, an entertainment district, retail space and more. That plan was rejected last year by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which held that it violated a state law, the Surplus Land Act, requiring that excess government-owned land be available for affordable housing. The original deal, which was already under stress due to COVID-19 economic issues, was then scrapped.

What’s emerging now: a new plan that would again declare the excess land as surplus, but with the condition that any new development contain a refurbished or replacement arena. If approved by the City Council and the state, the land would then be offered to a state list of affordable-housing developers. If those developer pass on the possibility of developing the property, the state can then go back to other developers–say, Brookfield–and discuss a new deal similar to the old one, with the additional requirement of 15 percent of housing devoted to affordable housing. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“It’s been a winding road to get to this point, but I’m excited that we’re here and that we, as a new council with a new mayor, get to determine the future of this sports arena site,” said Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera, noting that he wants to make clear to prospective bidders that the city is taking affordable housing seriously. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a future that we all envision, that is a walkable, bike-able, transit-accessible, sustainable, inclusive and transformative in a way that benefits all San Diegans.”…

Among the unknowns in the process is whether the state oversight agency will sign off on the city’s desired development condition. The city’s notice of availability will require that future development of the property include renovation or replacement of the sports arena as an entertainment venue, said Mary Carlson, who is the city’s real estate program manager.

UPDATE: The San Diego City Council voted to move forward with the revamped plan yesterday.

Rendering of previous arena effort courtesy San Diego.

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