Image: MisleadingStatement: Building a new Chargers stadium downtown would be “taking 15 to 20 acres of land that’s sown for high-rise residential development,” said Bob Sinclair, owner of the Wonder Bread building, in a video interview published recently by

Determination: Misleading

Analysis: City officials are considering the construction of a new Chargers stadium downtown that would, if approved, replace Sinclair’s Wonder Bread building, the metro bus yard and tailgate parking for Petco Park.

Sinclair argues that the land, located in the southeast corner of the East Village, could be better developed as high-rise housing.

But describing the area as “sewn for high-rise development” is a stretch. A whole series of events would have to transpire that aren’t currently planned for the statement to be true.

Adding high-rise development to all 15 acres would involve the city selling off the bus yard and the tailgate parking lot to housing developers, which no city leaders are proposing to do.

The land there isn’t currently planned for the kind of development he’s talking about, either. It would take several costly or bureaucratic steps for a developer to get the permission to build that tall.

Downtown is actually planned to taper off from the center of downtown gradually into the surrounding residential neighborhoods, so the southeast corner of East Village is a kind of buffer zone between the skyscrapers and houses.

It’s slated to contain less than half as much square footage as downtown areas currently home to the high-rise condos.

OK, so that’s the normal zoning law, but the city has some incentives that allow developers to build bigger. They can win points for additional floor space for adding things like bicycle racks, affordable housing units or a green roof.

If developers grab every incentive available, it’s possible that projects in southeast corner of the East Village could be 10 times larger than the current floor plans. Elsewhere downtown, it’s possible that structures could be built with 20 times larger floor plans.

So whether the parking lot, bus depot and Wonder Bread building could become home to high-rise development depends on the current floor space and how many incentives developers would be willing to pay for.

In a follow up interview, Sinclair stepped back from his statement and said he should have described the area as an attractive place for high-density housing. Those types of plans — compared to tall housing complexes — would be more likely since the construction costs could be less.

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Update: This Fact Check originally contained a misspelling in the quote. Click here for more.


Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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