An Innovation District is part of the plan for SDSU Mission Valley. | All renderings courtesy a representative of Carrier Johnson + Culture

Up Ahead for SDSU West

Carrie Rossenfeld Features

As SoCal Real Estate has reported, in November 2018 54.86 percent of San Diego voters voted “Yes” on Measure G, the initiative supporting the SDSU West redevelopment of SDCCU Stadium site in San Diego’s Mission Valley. The measure was competing against another ballot initiative, Measure E, which supported (among other things) the development of a SoccerCity stadium. But Measure G, which supports a new football and multi-purpose stadium as well as other developments to benefit San Diego State University and the Mission Valley market, prevailed.

Now that the measure has passed, what comes next for this initiative? We spoke with Fred Pierce, president and CEO of Pierce Education Properties and a major proponent for SDSU West, about what the future holds for this much-anticipated redevelopment. (See slideshow below for more renderings of the development.)

Fred Pierce | Courtesy a representative of Pierce Education Properties

SoCal Real Estate: What is the next step for SDSU West now that Measure G has passed?

Pierce: The ballot measure commonly known as SDSU West will now become referred to as SDSU Mission Valley—SDSU’s Master Plan for the redevelopment of 132 acres of the SDCCU (fka Qualcomm) Stadium site (SDCCU Site). SDSU is marching down parallel paths in currently undertaking: 1. negotiations with the City of San Diego regarding the land price and terms for the purchase of the SDCCU Site; 2) completing the program EIR for the SDSU Mission Valley Master Plan with public hearings to start at the beginning of 2019; 3. preparing for issuance of an RFQ/RFP for the design-build team that will finish design and construct the new football and multi-purpose stadium (Aztec Stadium) with selection expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019; and 4. planning for the sponsor and season ticket-holder solicitation process for Aztec Stadium, which will commence shortly.

What hurdles does the project face and from which entities?

Construction of the first phase of the project will require: 1. agreement with the mayor and approval by the City Council of the terms and conditions of the purchase by SDSU of the SDCCU Site; 2. approval by the CSU Board of Trustees of an SDSU campus Master Plan amendment to incorporate the SDCCU site and certification of the related program Environmental Impact Report (EIR); 3. approval by the CSU Board of Trustees of the financing for the land acquisition, River Park construction, and project grading and infrastructure, currently estimated by SDSU to cost approximately $300 million; and 4. completion by SDSU and approval by the CSU Board of Trustees of the financing for Aztec Stadium, currently budgeted at approximately $250 million. SDSU will also be engaging with the San Diego River Conservancy, Mission Valley Planning Group, and other stakeholders to garner input on the draft SDSU Mission Valley Master Plan and EIR.

How will the project overcome these hurdles?

I think it would be more appropriate to refer to the above approvals as “milestones” as opposed to “hurdles.” The key stakeholders listed above were all engaged during the campaign for Measure G, so they are starting from a well-informed perspective. The CSU Board of Trustees, Mission Valley Planning Group, and a majority of San Diego City Council members endorsed SDSU West (Measure G). As such, SDSU initiates the approval process from a strong base of support. These organizations will all be additionally engaged during the formal processing and approvals for the project. Additionally, while historically large developments in San Diego have notoriously been targets of lawsuits, those suits have largely been generated from dissatisfied neighbors and/or environmental groups, all of which are supporting SDSU Mission Valley, so hopefully there will be no litigation to impede the progress of this most important project for the region.

How can developers get involved in the project now?

Interested developers should reach out to SDSU’s Planning, Design and Construction department care of Assoc. VP of Real Estate, Planning and Development Bob Schulz (rschulz@sdsu.edu).

What is the projected timeline for the project?

SDSU has indicated a schedule to acquire the SDCCU Site in the first quarter of 2020, following approval of the sale by the San Diego City Council (and entry into the related purchase-and-sale agreement) and approval of the SDSU Mission Valley Master Plan and EIR by the CSU Board of Trustees. During that same timeframe, SDSU plans to complete the design, permitting and financing for Aztec Stadium such that construction could start immediately following close of escrow on the land purchase. The current schedule anticipates completion of Aztec Stadium in time to open for football in fall 2022. Immediately following completion of construction for Aztec Stadium, SDSU would demolish SDCCU stadium and commence grading and infrastructure improvements for the balance of the site, as well as commence construction on the River Park. Build-out of the remainder of the development including Campus District, Residential District, and hotels is contemplated to occur over the ensuing 10 to 15 years.

What types of developments are being considered for the project, and which are likely to be developed first?

The current draft Master Plan for SDSU Mission Valley includes a 35,000-square-foot multi-purpose stadium (expandable for up to 55,000 seats), 1.6 million square feet of campus space (focused on business incubation, technology transfer, research and innovation space), 2,600 residential units (including conventional apartments, condominiums, faculty/staff/workforce housing, student housing, and affordable housing), two hotels totaling approximately 400 rooms, and 95,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail space. The Master Plan also includes 89 acres of parks and open space including the River Park, active recreation and open space. As outlined above, the initial phase will include Aztec Stadium, the River Park, site grading and infrastructure. That will be followed by vertical development of the various components over time as university and market demand so dictate.

In your estimation, what will this project bring to the San Diego market and how will the market benefit most from it?

SDSU Mission Valley will do nothing short of transforming the region. The development of a west campus for SDSU will allow our great public university to expand to meet the growing enrollment needs of San Diego and California residents, as well as stimulate economic growth for the region. At full build-out, enrollment at SDSU could reach 50,000 students (currently at 35,000) resulting in a 43 percent increase in graduates for our knowledge economy. The multiplier effect of the direct expenditures by SDSU, together with increased graduates, additional research funding, and company spinoffs therefrom will have an economic impact totaling several billion dollars per year. That will add to the current $5.67 billion annual economic impact that SDSU produces for the region. SDSU Mission Valley will also open up valuable active and passive parks and open space to serve San Diego and Mission Valley residents. The new multi-purpose Aztec Stadium will be an important public venue that will allow Aztec Football to flourish, but also provide a venue for the region for a wide array of large events and activities likely to someday include professional soccer. This is the highest public purpose for this most important public land.

What else should our readers know about what’s next for SDSU West?

Spread the word that SDSU Mission Valley is on its way and the chances for admission to SDSU for your relatives, friends, and neighbors will soon be on the rise. For those who are football and sports fans, make sure to contact the Aztec ticket office so you can become part of the game-day experience. This will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for affinity groups to coordinate seating selection together in the new stadium. With only 35,000 seats available, they are going to go fast, so don’t be left out. There will also be opportunities for local businesses to become a sponsor, advertiser, or otherwise partner with SDSU in Aztec Stadium to help grow your business.