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SDSU Offers Alternative Plan For Qualcomm Site, But Soccer City Ballot Initiative In The Way

SDSU Offers Alternative Plan For Qualcomm Site, But Soccer City Ballot Initiative In The Way
Interior of FS Investors' proposed 22,000-seat professional soccer stadium.

Debate Tuesday on whether to declare the 233-acre Qualcomm Stadium site and 20 acres for a Chargers practice field “surplus land” ended with the San Diego City Council deciding to send the matter to Councilman Scott Sherman’s smart growth and land use committee for consideration. This action followed a presentation by San Diego State University representatives on an alternative plan to the SoccerCity proposal for redevelopment the Qualcomm Stadium site, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Declaring city land surplus would provide affordable housing builders, city and county recreation and parks departments, and other civic-minded entities first rights to the Mission Valley land ahead of other developers. The council could sidestep results of a surplus designation by declaring that some or all of the land is required for public purposes, such as higher education, SDUD Chief Financial Officer Tom McCarron wrote in a letter to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the council.

The university’s plan calls for SDSU acquiring the site, valued at $82M, to create an academic village with housing, research facilities, parks, a hotel and commercial space, as well as a new Aztec stadium with 35,000 to 40,000 seats. Similar to FS Investors' $4B proposal, the SDSU proposal would create a dense, transit-oriented mixed-use development, but with less office and retail space. FS's proposal calls for 4,800 housing units, 3.1M SF of office and retail, two hotels and 56 acres of parkland plus a professional soccer stadium with 22,000 seats.

A ballot initiative for voter approval of La Jolla, California-based FS Investors' Soccer City proposal makes it legally difficult to declare the two sites surplus land or pursue any other use for these sites until after the November election. Deputy City Attorney Melissa Ables noted in a memo that the mayor could veto any such action by the council. Faulconer has expressed support for the Soccer City proposal and has met privately with representatives of FS Investors at least 25 times.

While the city cannot make any binding agreements that conflict with the SoccerCity ballot measure, Chief Deputy City Attorney Prescilla Digard said in another memo that the city can legally issue a request for proposals for alternative uses for these sites before the Soccer City measure is adopted by voters. The RFP must be carefully worded to ensure city resources are not used to campaign for or against the ballot initiative. If the measure should fail then the city could proceed with one of the alternative proposals.