R.I.P. Redevelopment: Projects Uncertain

Billions of dollars’ worth of pending local redevelopment projects have been pushed off into an uncertain future

By Gene Cubbison
|  Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012  |  Updated 11:55 PM PDT
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R.I.P. Redevelopment: Projects Uncertain

After several decades of spearheading urban renewal efforts, hundreds of city and county redevelopment agencies throughout California officially.

SD Explained: Redevelopment Obituary

The California Supreme Court ended the possibility of redevelopment, reports Voiceofsandiego.org. Get more from voiceofsandiego.org here.
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After several decades of spearheading urban renewal efforts, hundreds of city and county redevelopment agencies throughout California officially went out of business Wednesday.

In San Diego, the process has been used to revitalize blighted areas since the late 1950s.

Now, billions of dollars’ worth of pending local redevelopment projects have been pushed off into an uncertain future.

Among them: a $150 million effort to help fold the MTS bus yard in East Village into a site targeted for a new stadium for the Chargers.

The money had been earmarked for environmental cleanup, site preps, and infrastructure. 

With redevelopment funding now off the table, stadium backers will have to find other ways to bankroll the project -- and underwrite the relocation of the bus yard.

Another major undertaking that appears to be in deep freeze is downtown's "C" Street corridor,  which has become anything but an urban showcase.

For years, the city has been planning a $150 million renovation of the area.

But without redevelopment revenue, it'll remain a pipedream for struggling merchants.

"What you're going to see is the same old thing down here -- more deterioration of downtown," predicts Dan O'Brien, owner of Octopus Clothing, whose merchandise retails for less than $20. 

"We really should be looking at getting something more vibrant for the city," O'Brien says. "Get more tourists down here, all the cruise ship passengers.  And now, that's just not going to happen."

Ditto, indefinitely, for a $63 million dollar renewal of Sports Arena Village.

A $107 million transit station for a bullet train.

A makeover of the California Theater, built in the mid-1920s.

And the Civic Theater, built in the 1960s.

Bottom line for both: $91 million.

But a more pressing concern is a legal requirement to unload undeveloped properties "expeditiously", in a weak real estate market.

"All of the assets that were assembled with public money for purposes of parks and fire stations may now go away," says Kris Michell, president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.  "So what you could have, actually, is where we thought we'd purchased a park, it could become a strip mall."

Downtown's stewards have plenty of problems, but see reasonable prospects for workable solutions.

"I think the real losers in this," says Centre City Development Corp. Chairman Kim Kilkenny,  "are those redevelopment areas that are relatively new or that are so blighted, they were unable to turn things around before redevelopment was eliminated.  And I think they are in deep trouble."

Since the Supreme court upheld the law ending redevelopment Dec. 29 last year, it's become clear that the measure has created unintended consequences that now demand remedial legislation.

For starters, lawmakers are moving a State Senate bill to keep existing fund balances for affordable housing projects.

Anout 2,000 unites are pending in San Diego County.
 

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