Brookfield team takes sports arena from mundane to unmistakable in San Diego venue deal


San Diego’s 55-year-old sports arena will remain in place but go from mundane to unmistakable, as envisioned in the Brookfield-and-Friends site redevelopment plan submitted to city officials last week.

The Discover Midway proposal, which also includes 3,280 apartment homes lining the outskirts of the city’s 48-acre property, advances the idea that the aging place can be made exciting once again with an exoskeleton that transforms its style. monolithic and singular function.

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Opened in 1966, the current arena is operated by ASM Global. It has 16,000 seats and hosts around 145 sporting and entertainment events in a typical year. The city-owned site is located in the San Diego Real Estate Heritage Center at 3500, 3250, 3220, and 3240 Sports Arena Blvd.

Contiguous plots are offered for rent through a state-regulated disposition process to development teams who promise to reserve 25% of future housing units for low-income households and commit to renovating or replacing the arena. .

“This is not your grandfather’s sports arena,” said Chuck Steedman, executive vice president of ASM Global, part of the Discover Midway team. “What we’ve tried to do is open up the arena, keep the things that’s great about it, which is the privacy of the bowl… and create a lot more fan-centric equipment. “

That translates to more bathrooms, more concession stands, more room to move – and more importantly, an attraction that serves more people more often.

“What we are planning is to transform the building itself into the vibrant, beating heart of the neighborhood,” Steedman said.

The Discover Midway plan includes 3,280 apartments in mid-rise towers lining the outskirts of the city’s 48-acre sports arena site. The proposal also provides for 400,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail space and 11 acres of parks and open spaces.

(Courtesy, Discover Midway)

The Discover Midway group is one of seven teams competing in a second solicitation process for the field which includes Pechanga Arena San Diego. Brookfield Properties won the first tender process before the California Department of Housing and Community Development intervened. The agency is responsible for enforcing the state’s Surplus Land Act, which was amended in 2019 with more bite to ensure surplus government-owned land is made available for affordable housing.

This time, San Diego is strictly following the state agency’s rules for the disposal of surplus land. Last week, the city closed the books for the second solicitation window. The seven candidates are now in a state-mandated 90-day negotiation period that runs until March 4. San Diego officials have shared few details on how they plan to assess the proposals except to note that the affordable housing and arena requirements are non-negotiable.

Brookfield’s latest pitch is dramatically different from the first: more homes, more greenery, less retail, and a whole new office component. And, as one would expect, subsidized housing plays a prominent role.

The consortium, which includes affordable housing builders Affirmed Housing and National Community Renaissance (National CORE), is poised to deliver between 820 and 1,050 housing units that are dedicated to people earning less than 60% of the region’s median income, or 25% to 32 percent of all units, depending on feedback from city officials. The group plans to erect the deed-restricted units in mid-rise towers, up to eight floors, that will house families, the elderly and veterans.

Discover Midway also plans to fill a gap in the affordable market: families with children who need the extra space but can’t afford a home. The proposal provides for more than 180 three-bedroom restricted rental units.

“There is a huge need for three bedrooms (units),” said John Seymour, vice president of National CORE. “In San Diego, there are mostly one and two bedroom apartment complexes.

The remainder of the houses – between 2,230 and 2,460 units – will be market rate units, meaning luxury apartments that can be rented to anyone at any price.

Render of Discover Midway mercado

A two-story mercado building, just east of the arena, is designed as a home for local merchants, artisans, and community groups.

(Courtesy, Discover Midway)

The homes are expected to work in concert with the two proposed contemporary office towers offering 400,000 square feet of space and a retail and entertainment district to create a vibrant community, said Jessica Jones, senior manager of Brookfield Properties and based in San Diego. .

“Brookfield is the largest owner and operator of office space in the world, so we are able to bring tenants like Google and Facebook here on site,” she said. “This will be an important element in building this cohesive neighborhood where people can come to work, live and recreate themselves.”

The plan’s entertainment district is anchored by the arena and its open lobby. Some of the arena’s catering operators are intended to be open all the time, and the site’s hinged roof, which extends up to 20 feet from the base structure, is designed to act as a shade for vendors. and temporary markets, such as Kobey’s Swap meet.

A two-story mercado building, just east of the arena, complements the outdoor market with retail space for local traders, artisans, and community groups. In total, the group offers 150,000 square feet of retail space spread over the entire project.

The main feature of Discover Midway Park, known as the Mesa, is a mostly passive elevated green space with ocean views located at the northwest corner of the site. It will supply community areas with dog parks and playgrounds. A pedestrian bridge would connect the project to the San Diego River Trail and other parts of the Midway District, Jones said.

The plan also includes visitor parking, concentrated in garages, and residential parking in above-grade podium structures.

As proposed, the dense project, like others vying for the site, includes a number of buildings that exceed the 30-foot height limit of the Midway District. Last year, voters in San Diego overturned the restriction by removing the Midway-Pacific Highway community plan from the city’s coastal area. However, the ballot victory could soon be overturned by a legal challenge to block taller buildings in the 1,324-acre area.

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