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This new twist in the story is kind of bizarre.

Let me get it clear: Doug Manchester does a behind-closed-doors deal with the Navy to gain control of one of the most valuable pieces of land in the city. All he has to do is build the Navy a nice headquarters on the land. The rest of the plot is his to make a buck off of (maybe two).

He comes up with a proposal that most everyone opposes – even the Union-Tribune editorial board. The public doesn’t like it. Politicians say they don’t like it but shrug their shoulders wondering what to do.

The big complaint is that Manchester’s plans for the area are quite unimpressive. And they don’t provide for much open space. This is San Diego’s signature property – its front porch – and Manchester envisions a bunch of boring (yet lucrative) commercial buildings on it.

So yesterday, we learn that the mayor has been working with Manchester to try to fix that.

The mayor announces yesterday that his office has put together a possible solution: The city might buy from Manchester a part of his agreement with the Navy.

I know, this tripped me up as well. Although it’s not set in stone yet, in essence, the mayor’s plan is to lease a half-block of the land from Doug Manchester, who will be leasing the whole area from the Navy.

Manchester just scored big if I’m reading this right. Think about it. His project was in a bit of trouble. Now he might get a deal where all he has to do is scale back what was already an excessive amount of commercial development and the city will give him a bunch of cash, an amount they refuse to disclose right now.

I’m going to do some work on this one today. I don’t get why Manchester gets any city money to do the right thing on land he doesn’t own. I will say from the beginning that I’m open to be convinced that he deserves it.

SCOTT LEWIS

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