Two competing and contrasting plans to redevelop the former Sports Arena site were presented to the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group in July.
Presenters were Brookfield+ASM Global Development and Midway Sports and Entertainment Team Development, which were the two top groups to emerge from the City’s recent request for proposals process. Their mission: to re-imagine and re-purpose the 48-acre area around the former Sports Arena in the Midway District.
Under the terms of the RFP, the City accepted proposals from qualified organizations, with bidders detailing how they would renovate and rebuild the existing arena with new commercial retail, office, and residential space.
The site is currently home to the Pechanga Arena, retail businesses, Kobey’s Swap Meet and a parking lot. The six-parcel site is in the heart of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area. It is the centerpiece of an area that includes a large industrial warehouse district, a commercial strip, and affordable housing expected to add about 10,000 more units over the next 30 years.
Both development groups presented their concepts, while Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group board members, and others during the Zoom meeting, questioned both proposals, without the group taking any action.
“These are the two organizations that have cleared the City’s first cut,” said Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group chair Cathy Kenton.
First up was David Malmuth of the Midway Sports and Entertainment Team Development group.
“Our team is working together to share a plan and vision for the project,” said Malmuth noting the “scale and complexity” of the project make it extremely challenging. He pointed out the project “will ultimately become the catalyst for the emerging Midway District, building on principles in the (updated) Midway Community Plan.”
“The (former) Sports Arena site wants to be a good neighbor while making strong connections to the surrounding area, with transit in-place,” added Malmuth. “We want to work with the community, and the City, to craft a forward-looking, 21st-century transportation plan.”
Representing ASM Global, Zach Adams said project redevelopment is “all about building a relationship and a long-term group approach. We really care about this project, and understand how important it is to the community.”
Adams touted the depth and breadth of ASM. “We’re much larger than just a local shop,” he said. “We’re a global group that’s done a lot with residential, office, retail and hospitality all under one roof. We really understand what it takes to deliver these projects. We have the expertise, and capital, to truly work with and serve the community to create a sense of place that really works and makes sense.”
Malmuth offered particulars on his group’s redevelopment proposal noting plans call for ultimate build-out of 1,500 residential units and 125,000 square feet of retail, as well as the creation of a new music hall and an interim modular soccer stadium.
“The heart and soul of our project is a 12-acre public park,” Malmuth said adding, “It’s critical to remove the 30-foot height limit (on the Nov. 3 general election ballot) not only for the Sports Arena but for the Midway area. With a park and a refurbished arena, the idea is to create a series of special experiences with many different kinds of activities.”
Adams of ASM said his group’s proposal is “all about connecting people with the experience of a seamless, integrated village on this site. We want this to contribute to this economy and reflect the community, as we’ve done in Nashville, San Francisco, London, and Los Angeles.”
Added Adams, “We can’t start sketching until we know what we want to create. That starts with the community plan update and land-use zoning. We want to create a place that’s transit-oriented with community principles helping us shape this plan. It’s about jobs, economic benefits, and housing. Those are the pillars of our value system for this project. We don’t want to create a cookie-cutter project. What we need, and want, is to create something that is authentic and lasting.”
MCPGH board members Judy Holiday and Tod Howarth asked the Midway Sports and Entertainment Team Development how they planned to water their proposed central public park.
“The idea is to capture stormwater runoff,” answered Malmuth.
“We do have a drought here,” noted Holiday.
Mandy Havlik, a guest from Peninsula Community Planning Board, asked Midway Sports and Entertainment Team Development if the proposed temporary soccer stadium would be public or private.
“The park is going to be leased out to a private entity, but it will be able to be accessed by local residents,” responded Malmuth.
Planner Kurt Sullivan asked Adams of ASB about the density of buildings and their layout.
Answered Adams, “Our initial vision is to get community feedback to make sure what we’re doing is consistent with the community plan while providing safe and secure green spaces.”
Planner Dike Anyiwo inquired about the future of the sports teams, like the Gulls AHL club, that use Pechanga Arena.
“We feel confident, after this project, that we will have a modern cultural entertainment and sports venue,” said Adams. “The goal is to provide a spectrum of options, along with improving the facility itself.”