Dust yet to settle on San Diego arena project


New development in San Diego Image: Arena Digest

The American global advisory, development and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries Oak View Group (OVG) is out and Brookfield Properties is back again as five groups sought City approval of the affordable-housing and San Diego arena project (US).

The ‘Fox 5’ stated that now Brookfield Properties, the group that won the original contest, is back – but not with the exact same plans they advertised last time for the 48 acres of City-owned land.

New York (US)-based Brookfield Properties is a North American subsidiary of commercial real estate company Brookfield Property Partners, which itself is a subsidiary of alternative asset management company Brookfield Asset Management.

The Pechanga Arena (formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena) is an indoor arena in San Diego, California (US). The arena seats 12,000 for indoor football, 12,920 for ice hockey and box lacrosse, 14,500 for basketball and tennis, 5,450 for amphitheater concerts and stage shows, 8,900-14,800 for arena concerts, 13,000 for ice shows and the circus, and 16,100 for boxing and mixed martial arts.

However, the whole development may be headed for another turbulence as a tentative ruling from a San Diego judge recently signaled that Measure E – which removed a key height limit for developing the district – may be invalidated, stalling the process yet again.

The Brookfield group’s ‘Discover Midway’ vision would add 3,280 homes to the area -some of them designated affordable housing – a vibrant market area, expanded office spaces and several parks, according to the team. Then there’s the new arena, a “reimagined and modernized venue”.

The ‘Fox 5’ further stated that the rental homes included in the pitch would house more than 6,500 residents, according to Brookfield and its partners, and 25 to 32 percent of the units would be reserved at reduced rates for people who make 60 percent or less of the area’s median income.

The group’s envisioned retail mercado, featuring “local-centric” shops, food and beverage businesses, also features prominently in the Brookfield plans. Renderings show busy sidewalks with shoppers strolling past outdoor dining areas and fresh food carts.

The new arena will feature modern “San Diego-inspired” architecture with indoor and outdoor connections, an expanded concourse, and a variety of new food and drink options and “refreshed” interior amenities. Renderings display a futuristic-looking entrance with a videoboard.

Other project highlights include 11 acres of parks and other outdoor spaces, and a permanent indoor-outdoor home for the popular Kobey’s Swap Meet. Parking plans consists of garages for visitor parking and residential parking in above-ground structures, according to the team.

Submissions to the City were completed recently and there are now five development groups negotiating for the rights to the land, with affordable housing and a revamped arena featured as pillars of each proposal. Which group can set itself apart in the City’s eyes remains to be seen and likely lies in the more-detailed plans to come?

Earlier, the ‘Arena Digest’ stated that it’s been quite a journey in the San Diego arena project, what with one false start and a redo of the bid project to include affordable housing to meet State guidelines. So, in keeping with the tumultuous nature of the process, it’s no surprise that the final bids included some last-minute changes.

The ‘Arena Digest’ stated that in the biggest change, venue giant Oak View Group is out. An original plan for the Midway Village+ group included a housing plan from Toll Brothers and a climate-neutral arena from Oak View Group, which has certainly been the most active player in arena development recently. But that activity has some limits, apparently: After opening a new Seattle arena, planning for a new Manchester (UK) arena and embarking on a new Palm Spring arena while also acquiring venue management firm Spectra, Oak View Group withdrew from the San Diego arena project and plans to build a Pechanga Arena replacement.

Oak View’s exit was an unexpected blow, said David Malmuth, a San Diego-based development consultant and Midway Village+ Project Executive. However, the team regrouped and was, within days, sitting down for a “taco summit” with its future partner.

“I picked my jaw off the floor. … It was a bad day, for sure. But I woke up the next day and got to work,” Malmuth said of receiving the November 4th phone call from Oak View Co-Founder Tim Leiweke.

Leiweke told Malmuth the Group would be pulling out of the bid because of regulatory concerns related to its purchase of venue management company Spectra, the operator of the in-construction 35,000-capacity Aztec Stadium in Mission Valley, San Diego (US).

The City will take 90 days to select a finalist and negotiate a final development deal before the City Council takes action on the project.

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