Jennifer Van Grove
March 23, 2022, 5:08 PM PT
The development team in the running to redo San Diego’s sports arena real estate with a housing-heavy proposal inspired by Little Italy has landed the backing of an influential labor organization just as the city prepares to cut the field of contenders.
Wednesday, Neighborhood Next, which is proposing to build 5,400 residential units on the city’s 48-acre property in the Midway District, announced a non-exclusive endorsement from the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. The organization represents 22 local unions and 30,000 construction workers.
That means, if selected to redevelop the site, the ConAM Group-led development team will enter into a project labor agreement with the Building and Trades Council and pay construction workers prevailing wages, which are set by the state. In addition, the team has committed to negotiate labor agreements with unions for operations of hotel, sports and entertainment facilities.
“We are excited by the Neighborhood Next plan because it’s so rare to see such a bold proposal to create well-designed, affordable homes at a scale that will make a dent in our housing crisis,” Carol Kim, who is the business manager of the Building and Trades, said in a statement. “It’s clear that this local team understands San Diego and the quality jobs we expect, and has committed to building the middle class and affordable homes that San Diego is missing.”
The backing comes ahead of an anticipated elimination round in the city-run — but state-supervised — competitive bidding process that kicked off in October. Five teams are battling to win a long-term ground lease for the 48-acre property currently home to Pechanga Arena, and are scheduled to pitch their plans to a City Council committee on April 21. The city’s Department of Real Estate and Airport Management will provide the committee with a recommended shortlist, although council members can chose to move forward with any of the teams.
Teams are proposing dense, master-planned communities with an arena, housing, retail, office, park space and, in some instances, additional sports facilities or hotels. Each must also set aside at least 25 percent of housing units for lower-income families, as required by a state law governing how municipalities offload surplus land.
Neighborhood Next’s plan is the most aggressive of the bunch when it comes to housing. The San Diego-based team — ConAm is partnered with Malick Infill Development and affordable-housing builders Community Housing Works and Wakeland Housing & Development Corp. — has said it wants to build 5,400 residential units, with 1,350 apartment homes reserved for families making 80 percent or less of the area median income.
The plan also calls for a refurbished sports arena, a 125-room hotel, 300,000 square feet of commercial space, and a bike and pedestrian promenade that traverses the site.
The team’s labor accord includes wage guarantees and other job protections for construction workers, as well as paves the way for agreements with Unite Here Local 30, IATSE Local 122, IBEW Local 569, SEIU-USWW, Laborers Local 89, Painters and Allied Trades Local 831, UA Local 230 and Teamsters Local 542, a spokesperson said. The unions represent hotel workers, stagehands, electricians, janitors, security guards, plumbers and truck drivers.
The Building and Trades Council has agreements in place with competing teams Midway Village+ and HomeTownSD. HomeTownSD has also secured the support of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, which represents 136 service-worker unions, or more than 200,000 families.
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