SAN DIEGO — San Diego city councilmembers selected three top finalists for the redevelopment of the sports arena site in the Midway District on Monday.
Councilmembers voted unanimously in selecting what city staff deemed to be the top three developers with the most viable proposals.
City staff evaluated all five proposals on several criteria, chief among them was the amount of affordable housing as well as experience with building indoor arenas.
The three final proposals include Midway Rising, HomeTown SD, and Midway Village+.
During Monday's council hearing representatives from the development teams presented their vision for the sprawling 48.5-acre parcel on Sports Arena Drive.
MIdway Rising proposal
According to a city staff report, the Midway Rising proposal from a group of local developers headed by Zephyr, proposes building a total of 4,250 units with 2,000 of them set aside for individuals and families who earn less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). A total of 300 of the 2,000 affordable units will go to those who earn under 30 percent AMI, which for a a family of four equals a little over $32,000 a year. Meanwhile, 1,500 units are proposed for those earning between 31 percent AMI and 50 percent AMI, and 200 units will be devoted for those earning 51 percent to 80 percent of San Diego County's median income.
The Midway Rising proposal also includes a 16,000-seat full-sized sports arena as well a a 200-room hotel and additional retail and commercial space.
HomeTown SD proposal
The HomeTown SD proposal from the Monarch Group offers the second-highest number of affordable housing units. The proposal includes building 3,250 total units, 1,726 of which are designated as affordable. Of the affordable units, 406 would be set aside for those earning 16-to-30 percent of the Area Median Income, 650 would be for those earning up to 50 percent of AMI, and 670 units for those earning up to 80 percent.
HomeTown SD's proposal also includes a new 12,500-seat arena, a 300-room hotel, and 315,000 square-feet of retail space.
Midway Village+ proposal
Proposal Midway Village+ was the third finalist. Developer Bridge Housing proposes building 4,250 units with 1,610 classified as affordable. Among the affordable units, 116 will go for those earning less than 15 percent of the median income. 186 for those earning up to 30 percent, 849 units for those with 50 percent of AMI, and 459 for those making up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income.
The proposal also includes a 15,000-seat modular soccer stadium as well as a 250-room hotel, 300,000 of office space and 150,000 square-feet set aside for retail.
All proposals also include community parks.
And, while council voted unanimously to whittle down the list of applicants, some city councilmembers expressed their reservation in moving forward with any one plan too fast.
"San Diego has a long history of rushing through with very bad real estate deals because of artificial deadlines," said council member Vivian Moreno.
Leading up to the vote, some San Diegans emphasized the need for more affordable housing options.
"I lived in my car for over ten years," said San Diegan Matthew Kearny, who now lives in a own 280-square-foot unit in East Village.
"We need housing," he added. "We need housing for low income!"
"This is the largest parcel of city-owned land that is up for re-development, definitely today," said Dike Anyiwo, chair of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.
The planning group had originally voted to urge the council to consider keep all five projects under consideration, "so that we could make sure that we didn't expose ourselves to any risk or liability, and have to somehow do this all over again," Anyiwo told CBS 8.
He added that he feels more optimistic, after hearing from a representative from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
"I think there is a lot more clarity that we now have, and a lot more comfort that I know I feel about the process and the trajectory the city is on," Anyiwo said.
An outside real estate consultant will now be hired to vet all three projects.
The city's real estate department says that it expects to have its recommendation by the end of the year, which the council would then vote on.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria issued this statement:
“I want to thank the City Council for unanimously supporting our recommendation to initiate the next phase of negotiations with these bidders. We are now a step closer to realizing a revitalized Midway District that all of us can be proud of. My goal remains to deliver a project that creates significant affordable housing and a new world-class arena that will serve the people of this city for generations to come.”
Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, whose district includes the Midway District, said:
“This is a critical issue for not just my District but the entire City. Midway has the potential to be a major site for economic opportunity, tourism, and most importantly... diverse housing needs. It is important to me that the momentum of Midway’s development is not slowed down, and I see the renovation vs. replacement decision regarding the existing arena as a primary factor.”