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Midway Rising arena bid green-lit by San Diego City Council

The long-running debate over a new San Diego arena took another step forward as the San Diego City Council decides on the Midway Rising proposal for redevelopment of the 48-acre Pechanga Arena site.

It’s been a multiyear process for the city to arrive at a final plan for Midway development site, but with the recommendation of the Midway Rising plan from Mayor Todd Gloria and the subsequent decision by the City Council to enter into negotiations with the developers, the plan is back on track. The Midway Rising plan is backed by market-rate housing developer Zephyr Partners, affordable apartment developer Chelsea Investment Corp., venue consultant and developer Legends Global and local architecture firm Safdie Rabines. The plan, according to the city, puts the emphasis on development with the following promised from Midway Rising: a new 450,000-square-foot arena (with Pechanga Arena going away), at 14,500 to 16,500 capacity; 4,250 new homes (2,000 affordable, 250 middle-income and 2,000 market rate); a new hotel; retail space; and 11+ acres of park and open space.

This pledge represents the highest number of affordable residential units of the three bids. It also comes with a certain level of controversy, with some opponents questioning why the arena is so large and why so many residential units were part of the mix.

“Today’s approval is a major step forward in our goal of revitalizing the Midway District with much-needed affordable homes along with a world-class entertainment venue and great amenities for the community,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria via press statement. “The Midway Rising team has not only the most compelling vision for re-using the site, but also the experience and financial wherewithal to execute.”

This is the second run at a new San Diego arena. A previous plan was awarded, then scrapped when state officials ruled it ran afoul of regulations require surplus land first be offered to affordable-housing firms, which the city did not do.

The selection of Midway Rising doesn’t commit the city to a deal with the developers; it merely means the two sides will begin negotiating an agreement. There are other agreements needed before this development can proceed, including public approval via referendum of higher buildings along the shoreline.

This article first appeared in the free weekly Arena Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Sign up here!

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