Perry Dealy, the leader of the group proposing an ambitious stadium redevelopment project at the Qualcomm site, acknowledged at a press conference this morning that the project faces a couple of hurdles. Notably, it’s received no support from either the Mayor’s Office or the Chargers.

The self-titled Citizens for Qualcomm Site Redevelopment Task Force envisions a mixed-use development that would include residential, retail, and public space, and serve as a new hub of city activity and entertainment.

But the plan drawings, which feature a stadium prominently, along with the dearth of support, made the question that most reporters were trying to have answered, “What are you thinking?” Reporters questioned Dealy about financing, how he planned to get the city and the team on board, and how feasible the project was when demand for office, retail, and residential space in the city is virtually nonexistent.

Dealy didn’t appear too fazed, though. He said the proposal was conceived by a group of developers with a love for the city who would like to see the Chargers remain in San Diego.

The River Park at Mission Valley project would cost about $1.1 billion, much of that coming from NFL and Chargers contributions, as well as tax increment funds that would be used to service a bond issued by the city. But that would depend on getting the City Council to declare the site a redevelopment area, which would secure tax funds generated there exclusively for payment of the bond debt.

“If we can’t get redevelopment approved for the site, it certainly would be very difficult to finance the stadium,” Dealy said, adding that “without that level of commitment we would fall short $400 or $500 million.”

He said the key difference between his group’s efforts and earlier ones by the Chargers to gain the redevelopment designation is that they discovered the land under the stadium to be a contaminated brownfield, meaning, essentially, that it is blighted, a precondition for the redevelopment designation.

Financing aside, Dealy also acknowledged that the Chargers’ explicit lack of support and their current search elsewhere doesn’t make it likely, at this point, that they will sign on, but he also said it would be on the table “if the Chargers don’t have any other options.”

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said that in earlier interactions with Dealy, he had expressed openness to viewing the proposal, but changed his mind when he learned of its details. The project, which includes almost 4 million square feet of commercial office space and almost 6,000 residential units, made it entirely unfeasible, he said.

“We were shocked to see the size of the project, the incredible density he was proposing. The minute we learned of that, for us it was dead on arrival. Politically it was unrealistic,” he said.

Asked why he thought the group would move forward with the unveiling when it lacked critical support, he said, “it’s inexplicable to me.”

Dealy admitted that publicly presenting the plan after Chargers have explicitly asked not to be associated with it could have a chilling effect on any future discussions with the team. But he also said that even if the stadium ultimately isn’t built on the site, the rest of the redevelopment project, after adjustments, could still go forward.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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