An aerial view of the Midway District along Sports Arena Boulevard. Courtesy City of San Diego

The San Diego City Council Tuesday declared the San Diego Sports Arena redevelopment area as “surplus land,” beginning the process to correct a previous real estate deal which failed to prioritize affordable housing in the development of the property.

After the state Department of Housing and Community Development released its final guidelines for the Surplus Land Act in April, the city requested a review of the Sports Arena development plan. HCD concluded the city may be in violation of the SLA because it did not properly follow the act’s declaration and noticing procedures.

“Today’s action is a step in the right direction to redevelop the Sports Arena area legally, transparently and responsibly,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “We are going to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize the Midway District with housing San Diegans can afford and a true entertainment district anchored by a new arena.”

Then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced last August that Brookfield Housing and ASM Global were chosen to build an entertainment district in the Midway area — including a new sports arena, thousands of housing units, park space and retail businesses.

The SLA requires government agencies to first declare property they would like to lease or sell as surplus land. The city must receive approval from the HCD about including an arena in the terms of its solicitation. Next, the property must be offered to a list of state-approved entities — with preference to affordable housing developers — and government agencies who would have to reserve 25% for affordable housing.

The state-approved entities, including affordable housing developers, have 60 days to respond after the property goes out to bid, followed by a 90-day good faith negotiation period with any responsive proposers. If there are no successful proposers, the site can be offered to the open market and at least 15% of residential units must be designated affordable, although staff will seek feedback from the San Diego City Council prior to issuing the solicitation.

The Sports Arena redevelopment area encompasses 48.5 acres in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community area. In 2010, the city and local community members began updating the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan, which serves as a blueprint for the future development of the neighborhood. The plan envisions a mix of entertainment, office, retail, residential, public and park uses.

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