What will the Chargers decide to do? Their choices appear to be: To move or not to move to a much larger marketplace which is -- despite our derision of Los Angeles -- a huge collection of diversity and opportunity. San Diego does attract more diversity in its stands, i.e., more fans for other teams, plus creating an additional Halloween when Raider fanatics arrive in town.
If I analyzed the land upon which the stadium stands as real estate -- rather than a stadium and its parking lot -- I would conclude that it's an exceptional parcel. When the TV reporter Paul Bloom asked me what would happen to the land if the Messrs. Spanos left, I answered that it would produce the "Superbowl of real estate."
It is in one of the finest proven retail centers in the county. In addition, it is in a prolific residential and office area. It would be custom-made for brilliant mixed-use which would combine all of the above, plus recreational. It would draw from the east, south and west county, having good public transportation and freeway access. This is a location for which developers would pray. They would respond to the land as a leasehold or fee simple.
Personally I would hate to see the Chargers leave, since I've been a football fan for as long as I can remember. As a real estate analyst, I could hardly wait to get the assignment of assisting in the creation of a master plan which could be sensational for the region.
I know what a great developer, Forest City Enterprises, is doing to the conversion of Denver's old Stapleton Airport -- a fine parcel which imagination is delivering to a waiting marketplace. The developer worked with Stapleton Tomorrow, a group of civic-minded citizens formed to "maximize public benefits from this redevelopment." The partnership produced their "Green Book," as a labor of love. This well thought out document provided guiding principles for the development plan: a network of urban villages, job centers and significant open spaces, all linked to protection of natural resources and the development of human resources. After a series of proposals from various developers, Forest City was selected (now actively building residential in downtown San Diego).
The first phase of the 25-year, $4 billion Stapleton project was begun in April of last year. Some of the features will be: Stapleton Central Park, 80 acres including an "urban forest" with concert area; the town green, featuring an amphitheater seating 500 people; the community park, three-acre green space with an Olympic pool and barbecue; an urban farm, my favorite, with 23 acres of community farm and environmental education facility; among several offerings of various priced housing, the largest supply of affordable housing in modern history; a large regional shopping center; and a brick office complex. Builders have been flocking to the residential areas. There is planning for 12,000 homes and apartments for more than 30,000 residents. For more information call (303) 355-9600.
My point in bringing this up is to illustrate that when significant land becomes available in a thriving metropolitan region, there will be many ambitious, experienced and enthusiastic developers who are willing to respond to its opportunities. We must understand the great potential of this land, whether as an enhanced stadium or a brilliant mixed-use creation. It will test our collective creativity. Understanding and working together is not a figure of speech. It is an attitude. Attitude is more important than environment in determining whether a city does or does not comprehend its potential and the needs of all of its citizens. It can and must harness the cooperation of all the elements which make up this place called San Diego.
Goodkin is an international real estate adviser and strategist, and a housing analyst since 1956. He can be reached at email@example.com.