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A local church today asked the mayor and the City Council to circumvent the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. and consider its bid for a troubled development project in southeastern San Diego.

Last week, City Attorney Mike Aguirre issued a legal opinion stating that any deals between SEDC and developer Pacific Development Partners are null and void because of a financial relationship between the developer and SEDC Chairman Artie M. “Chip” Owen.

PDP won the rights to develop Valencia Business Park in June after SEDC selected the developer’s bid over competition from a local ministry, St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ, which wants to build a high school, a job training center and an auditorium on the site.

But, in the light of Aguirre’s legal opinion, St. Stephen’s wants the mayor and the City Council to consider its bid for the site without the decision going back to SEDC. In a letter to the mayor, the group’s attorney asked for quick action. The letter states:

In light of the current problems at SEDC, additional delay caused by referring this matter back to the SEDC will effectively punish the community. To that end, we would respectfully request that the Mayor, Council President, and City Council direct that the above reference request for proposals be scheduled for Redevelopment Agency consideration as soon as possible, with oversight from the City of San Diego Redevelopment Agency.

St. Stephen’s offered the city $1.6 million for the Valencia Business Park land, compared to the $562,235 purchase price offered by PDP. The proposed purchase price from PDP has been a bone of contention.

The PDP project, which would be anchored by a new grocery store from British grocer Tesco, has been chosen by SEDC’s board twice over the competition. Some local land-use experts argue that it’s an excellent and much-needed project for southeastern San Diego.

Aguirre said his finding that the PDP deals are void means SEDC can no longer go forward with any contracts that were entered into with PDP while Owen was on the SEDC board. He said there is a possibility that SEDC and PDP could ignore his advice.

“They could ignore me, but that’s not in their best interests,” he said.

WILL CARLESS

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