Bob Schulz, the vice president for real estate assets at San Diego State University, revealed last week the university had no immediate need for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley. Now he’d like to update that statement.
First, some background. The 230 acres under and around Qualcomm Stadium belongs to the city of San Diego. One proposal seeks to push the city, through a ballot initiative, to sell it for development by FS Investors. FS hopes to build a soccer stadium, thousands of homes, offices and an entertainment district along with a large riverfront park.
SDSU officials negotiated with FS Investors for a year to share the stadium before talks fell apart. Now, the university wants the city to provide enough space for a new collegiate football stadium, a parking lot and 35 acres for development.
What caught my attention at a forum I moderated Thursday for Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, was Schulz’s explanation that, while the university is constrained at its current site on “The Mesa” and is much smaller than many comparable academic institutions, the university does not need those 35 acres apart from the football stadium right now.
“Initially we would develop that with a joint venture partner it would probably be office type space that would go on the tax rolls and support revenue for the city of San Diego and then we would actually grow into it over the next 30-50 years after it’s been capitalized and profitized by the developer,” Schulz said.
When I followed up on that, during the forum, I asked, “You’re saying you don’t need the land now. What you would do is get it developed and then push them out eventually as you need it?”
“Exactly,” he said.
As he pointed out, SDSU is now 120 years old. It has to think long term about its property. It would be wise for it to secure land like this now, even if it doesn’t need it for several decades.
By the weekend, Schulz said he wanted to add some thoughts, and sent over this statement:
When I said we would not need the expansion for traditional academic space right away, I neglected to point to other SDSU needs that are more near term. If we were able to purchase the land for an expansion we could also use it in the near term for campus needs such as Extended Studies classes and student housing. It’s also worth noting that our Research Foundation leases thousands of square feet of space off campus that we would consolidate onto a new research campus if one was available to house portions of our researcher activities. Additionally, as I noted in the panel discussion, we would build additional housing, office and research space sooner to generate property tax revenues and serve the community, with long term ownership assumed by the University to support future needs.
Those needs are more near-term.
I asked FS Investors’ Nick Stone if he had any comment on all of Schulz’s points.
“We have very consistently said to the university we are very happy to build to their needs and we have repeatedly asked them what they need immediately and they’ve repeatedly said nothing,” Stone said. “We’re still open to having that conversation.”
It seems even more likely now that FS Investors’ SoccerCity plan will be placed on the ballot in a November special election alongside a financing plan and hotel-room tax increase for expansion of the Convention Center.