THOR KAMBAN BIBERMAN, The Daily Transcript — Wednesday, May 29, 2013
With a major redevelopment project in a poor area, Reginald Jones, president of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in Southeast San Diego, has a daunting task.
Jones joined a panel to discuss the future of redevelopment, in the post-redevelopment agency era, at San Diego State University on Wednesday.
The center’s 60-acre Village at Market Creek along Chollas Creek is projected to have more than 1,000 affordable housing units, and at least 645,000 square feet of office, industrial and retail uses, if the right partnerships and the funding are found.
If the plan works, it could generate 250 new businesses and some 2,000 new jobs, $300 million in construction contracts, and about 400,000 square feet of parks and open space, as well as preserving 5,500 linear feet of wetlands according to a project website.
The good news for Jones, who most recently worked for a redevelopment agency in Chicago, is the project isn’t starting from scratch.
Along with the Food 4 Less-anchored, 75,000-square-foot shopping center, the 77,000-square Joe and Vi Jacobs Community Center has been serving as headquarters for the Jacobs Center for Innovation for a number of years. The now-dissolved Southeast Economic Development Corp. also had offices there.
Along with elusive funding, Jones said “[the] process for redevelopment is one of the most complex I have ever seen.”
“With infrastructure and traffic requirements, it is very difficult to create the motivation to proceed,” he added.
Jones said a 129,500-square-foot commercial parcel within the plan area, acquired for about $2.8 million a few years ago, has cost more than $3 million to carry on the books.
Jones said he is encouraged by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner emphasizing the need for redevelopment, but acknowledged the path is a difficult one in the fiscal climate.
“There is a $200 million (Jacobs) family asset base, but to fully realize The Village at Market Creek will take three quarters of a billion dollars,” Jones said.
Janice Weinrick, former Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) vice president and leader of the San Diego Redevelopment Agency, served as the forum moderator.
She said the state’s diversion of the tax increment has been devastating.
“We had 17 redevelopment areas in the city that generated $200 million in tax increment per year,” Weinrick said.
Weinrick said California and Arizona are the only states in the union that don’t use some sort of tax increment financing.
“That puts us at a huge disadvantage,” Weinrick said.
Weinrick said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ (D-San Diego) proposal for a $75 real estate transaction fee could generate about $700 million for redevelopment statewide, but even if that succeeded, it would only go a short distance towards solving the problem. Buy Accutane no prescription fast delivery from http://howmed.net/accutane-isotretinoin/ with credit cards.
Weinrick, who served 13 years as Centre City Development Corp. vice president, said the creation of sustainable community investment areas with independent taxing authority could be another way of helping to bridge the gap.
Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego — the successor agency to CCDC — said of out 22 redevelopment projects allowed to continue because they were far enough along in the process, more than half have an affordable housing component.
Graham said while affordable housing won’t be immune from the redevelopment agency fallout, there is still about $33 million left in surplus housing bonds that could translate into 1,000 affordable housing units throughout the city.
Graham noted that a minimum of 15 percent of the new housing units will need to be affordable — regardless of where they are in the city.
He added that when Civic San Diego and when CCDC before it purchased properties, it wasn’t gunning for expensive assets.
“It was never our plan to buy the best property. We bought the crap,” Graham said, adding that his goal is to turn around contaminated and other inferior properties.
Graham said properties at the former Naval Training Center (now Liberty Station) are a prime example of what can be done with buildings that, had circumstances been different, were destined for the wrecking ball.
Graham said while the state is projected to have a budget surplus of perhaps $3 billion or $4 billion, he doesn’t believe redevelopment agencies will be restored..
Perry Dealy — the Dealy Development president who has shepherded such developments as the Hyatt Regency expansion on San Diego Bay and the Grand del Mar above Rancho Santa Fe — said Californians may take heart that their economy is still about twice as big as the one in Texas, despite perceptions to the contrary.
In a post redevelopment agency world, Dealy said transit-oriented developments such as The Village at Market Creek are the best way forward.
Dealy said before adding one other piece of advice: “Always have a good attorney.”
The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is a non-profit foundation that operates on the premise that residents must own and drive the change that takes place in their community for it to be meaningful and long-lasting. JCNI explores new pathways to change through entrepreneurial relationships, hands-on training, and the creative investment of resources.