Friday, May 13 2022

City of San Diego staff have chosen their favorite team to redevelop the Sports Arena site and are asking the city council to remove two of the five bidders from the race.

A new report released Tuesday reveals that city staff believe Midway Rising, the team led by real estate developer Zephyr, should be given priority. And two other teams, Hometown SD and Midway Village+ should also be considered “In order to have options for the city as we move forward in negotiations,” the report said.

This is only the recommendation of the staff and the city council could decide on a different route.

The two offerings the staff would like to put on the record for the ride include Neighborhood Next run by the ConAm Group. It had the most housing and more affordable housing than Midway Village+, but the city’s director of real estate assets Penny Maus, who wrote the report, said the team didn’t have a viable plan to build a new arena.

The three teams advancing, in effect, according to Maus’ preferred scenario, all commit to building an entirely new arena. Discover Midway, the team led by Brookfield Properties, was also committed to revitalizing the existing arena.

The staff recommendation shows how Mayor Todd Gloria prioritizes a new arena on the land, at least in the case of one of the bidders, over affordable housing.

Brookfield’s omission from the City Staff finalists was particularly striking. The company’s proposal two years ago had won the city’s blessing and it helped fund the campaign for Measure E to lift the height limit in the area to make it all possible. But the state said the city violated the law that requires cities to make affordable housing the top priority for new developments on public lands. Cities decide they don’t need it anymore.

Now Brookfield could be eliminated, as could Measure E, which a judge ruled was illegally placed before voters without sufficient analysis of its impact on community views.

Go further: Our latest political report provided more context on the state of affairs following a court ruling scuttling Measure E, which not only removed the height limit for the Sports Arena pitch, but for the entire the Midway community.

None of these projects work unless voters re-approve such a measure – even a new arena of the same height as the current one would not be allowed to be built.

Go even further: The mayor’s insistence that the area have a new arena is certainly noteworthy. There’s nothing in the area that makes it a great place for an arena other than the fact that there is one now.

Why is there one now? In some ways, it is a monument to a successful, decades-long effort to resegregate the Midway/Point Loma region. If you missed our January story on how the city came to own the land in Midway we’re talking about, catch up here.

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