Welcome to San Diego Blog | December 19, 2019
Tailgate Park is officially for sale, international buyers are welcome!
The city of San Diego has formalized its intent to sell or lease to the best and highest bidder four downtown city blocks, just east of Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres currently operates the famous parking lot known as Tailgate Park.
Tailgate Park is a 1,000-space parking lot adjacent to Petco Park designated for tailgating. It’s a far cry from the 18,500 spaces at Qualcomm, but still adequately serves man’s primal need (and woman’s) to grill, socialize, and consume alcohol on asphalt before attending a sporting event.
Monday, the city issued what’s called a Request for Qualifications to solicit interest to redevelop the site — bounded by 12th and Imperial avenues, and K and 14th streets — now home to more than 1,000 stadium-adjacent, surface parking spots. The lot, which the city is referring to as “East Village Quarter,” consists of 5.25 buildable acres that could be used for as much as 4 million square feet of office, hotel, retail, residential and entertainment space.
A city-owned asset since the formation of the ballpark district, Tailgate Park is governed by a complex set of state regulations. The lot was originally acquired by San Diego’s now-defunct redevelopment agency and was transferred to the city for the sole purpose of future development when redevelopment agencies were dissolved in 2012. As such, it has been on a State Department of Finance-approved list of properties to be divested; it must be sold or leased at a sum exceeding its 2011 appraised value, which has not been disclosed.
“I think it’s the right time to put this property on the market,” said Erik Caldwell, who is deputy chief operating officer for the city’s Smart and Sustainable Communities department. Caldwell characterized the site as a prime real-estate opportunity for a potential foreign investor, given his frequent conversations with visiting delegations.
The city hired real estate brokerage JLL Capital Markets to advertise the property to would-be buyers, with the firm targeting investors in China, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, he said. Last month the baseball club’s president said the organization intended to participate in the city’s bidding process and will later present a compelling mixed-use project with housing, retail, and office space.
The team could face stiff competition from a diverse pool of applicants given the site’s proximity to the water, public transportation, Petco Park, and an in-transition East Village neighborhood that’s expected to balloon from a population of nearly 18,000 people to one with 46,000 residents. At one point, the lot was eyed by the former San Diego Chargers, which had hoped to build a downtown football stadium. It was also rumored in late 2017 that Blue Pool Capital, the asset management company owned by billionaire Joe Tsai, had looked at building an arena large enough for the NBA or NHL on the property.
More recently, 127 qualified, potential bidders — a number of them foreign — showed interest in the property and registered with JLL to receive materials about the opportunity, said Christina Bibler, who is the city’s economic development director.
The city’s Request for Qualifications process culminates in March and will be used to vet interested buyers or lessees. The top prospects will be invited to submit more formal proposals, with City Council expected to sign off on a winning bidder in October. The disposition of the former redevelopment asset is being overseen by Civic San Diego, downtown’s one-time planning agency now acting only as a consultant to the city.