In 2020 a group headlined by Brookfield Properties and ASM Global put together a plan for renovating the 48 acres where Pechanga Arena currently sits.
Their idea was not selected as the favorite in a public vote but eventually won the opportunity when then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer chose the proposal to move forward. Now that the area is up for grabs again, they're back, but this time rebranded as Discover Midway.
Discover Midway is competing against Midway Sport and Entertainment District's (MSED) Midway Village+. Learn more about the other redevelopment proposal here.
They have until December 3 to finalize their plan and Discover Midway is taking the "slow and steady wins the race" approach. They don't have a final breakdown of how the entire site will be laid out and no renderings have been made.
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What they do have is a whole lot of insight into what the community is truly looking for.
"We've had the opportunity over the last year to really work with the community out in the Midway District," says Jessica Jones, Brookfield Properties Sr. Director of Community Affairs and Engagement. "We have been working with the area businesses, the planning group, and residents to really help shape our vision and enhance our plan. We want to build a project here that the community wants. This is a community-based, community-driven project."
After they won the bid a year ago Discover Midway worked with the Sports Arena Community Advisory Board, a 20-person entity comprised of local leaders in business, higher education, transportation, and environmental sustainability. Through those talks they decided to emphasize making the area a place that anyone can enjoy.
"Acres of new parks and open space, commercial and retail, safe mobility connections, and a true place for all San Diegans," says Jones. "We are focused on supporting families and traditionally underserved communities to create a meaningful mixed-use destination for all San Diegans."
Of the new requirements for any group bidding to take on the project there are two that stand out. One is a new or renovated sports arena. Discover Midway has not decided if it will do a renovation of Pechanga Arena or tear it down and build a new one.
Whichever option they go with the facility would be run by ASM Global, which controls more than 300 stadia worldwide. They've operated Pechanga Arena for the last 13 years. The updated/new facility will most likely be the new home of the AHL's San Diego Gulls and NLL's San Diego Seals and several live entertainment events each year.
The other mandate: at least 25% of the housing units constructed on the site must be affordable. Through partnerships with Affirmed Housing and National CORE, and conversations with the new group in City Hall, that's going to be the main emphasis for Discover Midway.
"We now know, with this new administration and the climate in San Diego, what is important on this site and that is housing," says Jones. "Housing for all income levels, including affordable housing, which is a strong focus of our plan. We know building a community-based project here for all San Diegans is what this administration is looking for and it's what we're focused on."
Discover Midway does not have a breakdown of how much of the project will be housing, retail, arena space, etc. because they don't have to. A year ago everyone came out like they'd been shot from a catapult with all kinds of plans and specific information. This time
"This is a very different process than last time," says Jones. "Last time it was best and final (plan) right out of the gate. We are very early in the process and we're putting that plan together. We'll have quite the opportunity to share all of those details."
That will happen after December 3, the deadline date to turn in the final plans.
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Now, the questions everyone wants to ask: how much will is cost and how much will it cost us? Jones says, at this point, there's really no way to tell.
"We're looking forward to delivering the best project here for San Diegans and we're working through the plan for that right now."
When former Mayor Faulconer awarded Brookfield the project one of the factors he mentioned was their track record of delivering projects of this magnitude. That's something Discover Midway is again using as a selling point.
"We are committed to San Diego. We're committed to the Sports Arena site. We see the vision there," says Jones. "We see what we can build in the hub of San Diego to really bring people together and create a new, exciting experience for San Diegans. We have the local experience to be able to deliver complex projects like this."
Learn more about the opposing proposal, Midway Village+, at the link below: