Neighborhood Next sports arena plan now includes social commitments

The development team vying to redo San Diego’s sports arena real estate with a heavy-handed housing proposal inspired by Little Italy has won the backing of an influential labor organization just as the city prepares to reduce the field of suitors.

On Wednesday, Neighborhood Next, which proposes to build 5,400 residential units on the city’s 48-acre property in the Midway District, announced a nonexclusive approval from the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. The organization represents 22 local unions and 30,000 construction workers.

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This means that, if selected to redevelop the site, the ConAM Group-led development team will enter into a project work agreement with the Building and Trades Council and pay construction workers prevailing wages, which are set by the state. In addition, the team is committed to negotiating collective agreements with unions for the operation of hotel, sports and entertainment facilities.

“We are excited about the Neighborhood Next plan because it is so rare to see such a bold proposal to create well-designed, affordable homes on a scale that will make a dent in our housing crisis,” Carol Kim, who is the Commercial Director of Building and Trades, said in a statement. “It’s clear that this local team understands San Diego and the quality jobs we expect, and is committed to building the middle-class, affordable homes that San Diego is missing.”

The support comes ahead of a scheduled elimination round in the city-run — but state-supervised — bidding process that began in October. Five teams are battling to win a long-term ground lease for the 48-acre property that currently houses Pechanga Arena, and are due to present their plans to a city council committee on April 21. The Department of Real Estate and Airport Management will provide the committee with a recommended shortlist, although board members may choose to go forward with any of the teams.

Teams offer dense, planned communities with an arena, housing, retail, offices, parks, and in some cases additional sports facilities or hotels. Each must also set aside at least 25% of housing units for low-income families, as required by a state law governing how municipalities dump excess 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. or less than the region’s median income.

The plan also calls for a renovated sports arena, a 125-room hotel, 300,000 square feet of retail space, and a bicycle and pedestrian promenade that runs through the site.

The team’s labor agreement includes wage guarantees and other job protections for construction workers, and 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. Unions represent hoteliers, machinists, electricians, janitors, security guards, plumbers and truck drivers.

The Building and Trades Council has reached agreements with competing teams Midway Village+ and HomeTownSD. HomeTownSD also has secured the support of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, which represents 136 service worker unions, representing more than 200,000 families.

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