By Sara Butler | Editor
University releases development details for stadium site
On Nov. 29, San Diego State University (SDSU) held a press conference to offer the detailed plan that it is proposing for the San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) Stadium site, formerly Qualcomm Stadium. The university’s proposal – coined “SDSU Mission Valley” — is competing with the SoccerCity plan.
SDSU has engaged JMI Realty and Carrier Johnson + Culture, a global design/architecture and strategy firm, to help them with the proposal. The process began in spring 2017.
Speakers at the press conference included SDSU Interim President Sally Roush, JMI Realty CEO John C. Kratze and Carrier Johnson + Culture’s design principal Gordon Carrier.
Currently, the SDSU campus is situated on 288 acres, which is nearly built out. When the university acquired the land in 1931, the area was completely surrounded by open space. Now, Interstate 8 sits to the north, while developed neighborhoods extend east, west and south of the campus.
Roush said the SDCCU Stadium site would allow the campus to go back to its open space roots, as well as accommodate future growth as a university.
“Mission Valley represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire approximate property where we can grow,” Roush said. “When SDSU has the opportunity to grow, the region is better served, both in the development of a diverse, highly educated workforce suited to meet San Diego’s growing needs, and the opportunities provided to all San Diegans by the way of inclusive economic stimulus.”
In regard to the economic stimulus, Roush referenced a recent economic impact analysis. The report indicates that SDSU students and alumni generate $5.67 billion annually for the San Diego economy. Thus, the expansion would greatly benefit both the university and the county, according to Roush.
Kratze outlined five guiding principles that were most important to SDSU for the development. These non-negotiable criteria served as guidelines for JMI Realty and Carrier Johnson + Culture throughout the planning process.
The plan must accommodate future growth and expansion of SDSU campus.
The design feel must replicate a college campus environment, such as space between buildings, open spaces, paseos and traffic.
There must be no reliance on tax dollars. The plan has to be financed on a stand-alone basis, primarily achieved through public-private partnerships.
The development must be a regional asset, including the open space, community parks and innovation hub for businesses.
The process must be transparent, including press conferences, communicating with various stakeholders, and completing a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.
Carrier then walked the audience through the specifics of the site plan, which emphasizes “open space first.”
“SDSU Mission Valley” will have 75 acres of open space, 8 acres of campus parks and green space, and 5 acres of paseos. In total, this amounts to an approximate total of 90 acres, which is 52 percent of the entire site area.
The other half of the site will be dedicated to buildings, such as a multi-purpose, 35,000-seat stadium on the north edge of the property. The stadium is designed to accommodate SDSU Aztecs football, Major League Soccer, the Holiday Bowl and possibly a future NFL team. Directly east of the stadium will be a tailgate section that will serve as a shared park on non-event days.
Academic campus buildings in the SDSU expansion will cover about 1.6 million square feet on the west side of the site. These buildings will be three to six stories in height with lots of space between them “to emphasize the idea of human scale, [and to ensure that] they’re not overpowering,” Carrier said.
Concerns about cars on campus were addressed with subterranean parking, which will house approximately 5,000 vehicles.
There will be 15 separate blocks of residential area, creating 4,500 units. The units — including town home, low-rise, mid-rise and select high-rise — will serve faculty, staff, and upper division and graduate students.
In addition, retail will also be incorporated into the development. Carrier said it would be two-fold: “neighborhood retail” and “entertainment retail.”
The focus would be on neighborhood retail — such as a local grocer, dry-cleaner, ice cream shop or small restaurant — to directly benefit the residential community. The entertainment retail would be a smaller component to serve as an asset for the stadium.
“We’re not really trying to invite traffic from outside the area to come to retail,” Carrier said.
Friends of SDSU commended the plan in a Nov. 29 press release. The organization of SDSU alumni, community and business leaders operates independently of the university and emphasized the environmental advantage “SDSU Mission Valley” has over the competing SoccerCity plan.
“With more than 80 acres of open space, including a river park and hiking trails to restore this hidden gem and make it accessible to the public, and development plans that offer much lower density and traffic, the SDSU site plan is far superior environmentally to the SoccerCity plan,” the press release stated.
Nick Stone, a FS Investors and SoccerCity representative, responded to the financial aspect of SDSU’s plan.
“The major difference is that SoccerCity will be built without a dime of public funds in a legally binding initiative and lease with the city, while the SDSU West plan offers no binding commitments,” Stone said in a statement, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Representatives from JMI Realty and Carrier Johnson + Culture presented an initial version of SDSU’s plan at the Nov. 1 Mission Valley Planning Group meeting. This preliminary presentation focused on open space, hydrology and the San Diego River. To read our previous coverage of the plan, visit bit.ly/2AKE57G.
— Sara Butler is the editor of Mission Valley News. Reach her at email@example.com.