Apr 4, 2024 - News

$300K check could boost Civic Center development

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill with Ben Franklin wearing a construction hat.

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

San Diego has struggled to redevelop its Civic Center, and now the county's largest private foundation has stepped in with a $300,000 check in hopes of turning its fate, the Union-Tribune reported.

Why it matters: The money could lead to a revitalization plan that piques interest from developers, who last year mostly ignored the city's solicitation for project ideas.

How it works: The Downtown San Diego Partnership, an interest group for economic development downtown, will oversee the design work by Philadelphia-based U3 Advisors, and the Prebys Foundation will pay the tab.

  • The foundation, a major arts benefactor, got involved to secure the fate of the Civic Theatre, which is in the six-block project area, the U-T reported.

Friction point: City officials will not be required to follow the new blueprint, since it will be funded, managed and created by three separate private groups, Fox 5 reported.

What they're saying: Jay Goldstone, a special advisor to the mayor on the project, told Axios last year the project suffered from nationwide economic headwinds facing big downtown projects.

  • "The initiative reflects a strategic response to the challenges faced by downtown areas nationwide, offering a visionary model for urban renewal," Prebys Foundation CEO Grant Oliphant said in a news release.

The intrigue: When few developers responded to the city's solicitation last year, the project fell under a state requirement that any proposal reserve 25% of units for affordable housing.

  • Yes, but: Now, the city has satisfied that requirement, so any response will instead need to reserve only 15% of units for affordable housing. City officials hope that will increase developer interest.
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