Land Pact for Convention Center Expansion Extended Amid Ballot Uncertainty

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The convention center on the waterfront in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

An agreement to secure long-term control of the land needed to expand the San Diego Convention Center has been extended amid uncertainty over a related ballot measure.

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The City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego and property leaseholder Fifth Avenue Landing, which signed the agreement in June, have extended the deadlines under the purchase and sale agreement until Sept. 25.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters is expected to determine by Sept. 20 if an initiative to fund the convention center expansion, homelessness solutions and road repairs will qualify for a future ballot.

“Even though an initiative to fund the expansion and help the homeless won’t be on the November ballot, it is still on the table for a future election, and I thank Fifth Avenue Landing and the port for their continued partnership on this very important issue,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The initiative, which would raise the tax paid by hotel guests, failed to make the ballot because a sampling of signatures found many were invalid. A full count is now underway.

If the initiative passes, the port will purchase Fifth Avenue Landing’s lease on the land for $33.2 million, which requires a nonrefundable $5 million down payment ahead of the November election.

The city would then, using hotel tax proceeds, purchase the lease from the port for $28 million through 2042. Transactions would be made in three installments over the course of 2019.

If the initiative fails, the port won’t purchase Fifth Avenue Landing’s lease, and the city will be on the hook to reimburse the port for its $5 million down payment.

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