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MTS Searchers to Expand Transit Center and Build a High-Rise Near Petco Park

Transportation agency is searching for a developer to turn two East Village parcels into a hub for transit-adjacent housing and jobs.

A sliver of underutilized real estate near Petco Park downtown could be turned into a 500-foot residential tower with downstairs access to bus and trolley lines and other city services.


That’s the high-level plan, as set in motion earlier this year by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, for agency parcels near the 12th and Imperial Transit Center in East Village. The organization is currently in search of a developer who can bring its desired transit-oriented project to life. It recently completed the first of a two-part solicitation process that should culminate with a winning bidder selected next year.


“MTS is seeking to identify qualified development teams with the vision, resources and expertise to promptly develop a large, contiguous, and highly visible, mixed-use residential, transitoriented development on property owned by MTS in downtown San Diego,” the agency’s procurement document states. "(The property is located near) one of the busiest transit centers in the region, offering service on all trolley lines and four major bus routes.”


The 12th and Imperial redevelopment effort is the latest in a larger push by MTS to repurpose parking lots and vacant properties with mixed-income housing across the county.

MTS is hoping to consolidate two unused parcels (outlined in green), bisected by National Avenue and 13th Streets, for redevelopment. (Courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation System)

The site in question — south of Imperial Avenue, west of 14th Street, north of Commercial Street and extending to the bus bays just east of 13th Street — was purchased several years ago and could, if two bisecting city streets are removed, accommodate up to 2 acres of buildable land. That would allow for a four-story, linear building with more room for transit services and new office space, and topped by a residential skyscraper extending as many as 47 floors, according to a potential layout drafted by MTS contractor Kimley-Horn.


Ultimately, MTS is looking for bidders to expand the capacity of the bus hub, maximize density on the site and create quality housing, with 20 percent of units reserved for low and very lowincome households, the procurement document states. It’s also hoping to make money from the project, as the land is valued at around $20 million, according to a financial analysis prepared by real estate adviser Keyser Marston Associates.


The potential project is just one of a handful in the pipeline for the surrounding East Village blocks. For instance, on the other side of Imperial Avenue, the city of San Diego is seeking to sell or lease the four blocks known as Tailgate Park. In addition, the San Diego Padres’ VIP parking lot sandwiched between Petco Park and the MTS transit center, was this year granted a large density bonus, meaning property owners JMI Realty and Lennar Homes appear to laying the groundwork for a major development.


MTS expects to issue a request for proposals with additional project specifics to qualified applicants in February.


Article via: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Jennifer Van Grove | Dec. 23, 2019


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