Check out the latest proposal for a reimagined Midway District, arena

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SAN DIEGO — One of the teams vying to redevelop the Midway District and build a new San Diego sports arena is making a bold pitch with their plans for the neighborhood.

The Midway Rising plan, led by developer Zephyr, affordable-housing company Chelsea Investment and the venue operator Legends, promises 4,000 new homes, over 20 acres of parks and a state-of-the-art arena.

It’s the latest pitch for the 48 acres of city land surrounding the current Pechanga Arena, a district that badly needs investment but has been the subject of a stop-and-start redevelopment process.

The Midway Rising project details have not been made fully public ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions, but the team shared highlights in a news release that sought to set their group apart.

The developers emphasized their plans for affordable housing, suggesting they could deliver on an “inclusive community” in the “long-underserved Midway District,” taking a bite out of the crushing shortage of affordable housing in San Diego and California at large.

Of 4,000 new housing units in their development, 1,200 will be classified as affordable, “tailored specifically for low- and middle-income families and at-risk San Diegans” such as seniors, vets and youth, according to the development group.

A map of the proposed Midway Rising development, on 48 acres of city land “Bordered to the south by Sports Arena Boulevard and Kurtz Street to the north. (Photo: Safdie Rabines Architects)

Typically, affordable housing developers use government subsidies to lower their building costs and then are required to rent to people making 80% of the area’s median income or less. The Midway Rising project also promises on-site community services and transitional housing for very low-income residents.

“We’re tackling San Diego’s housing crisis with a project that delivers over a thousand affordable homes at the heart of a vibrant new neighborhood where families can thrive and an entire community can flourish,” Jim Schmid, of Chelsea Investment Corp., said in the news release.

The group is also proposing a brand new sports arena, moved to the eastern edge of the lot. Renderings show a large entertainment plaza at the entrance to the venue, home to the San Diego Gulls minor league hockey team, concerts and other entertainment, with a massive exterior video board.

The team touts Legends’ work on the new SoFi Stadium for the Los Angeles Rams as evidence of their venue-building bona fides, but more information about the arena’s offerings were not initially released.

midway rising develoment rendering
A rendering of a proposal for the new San Diego sports arena, its entertainment plaza and surrounding area in the Midway District, proposed by development team Midway Rising. (Photo: Safdie Rabines Architects)

Other proposal highlights include the new parks and community spaces promised by the development, including a roughly 3-acre “central paseo greenway.” Renderings show elevated walkways between rooftop parks surrounding the entertainment district.

Some of the parks will also cover above-ground parking structures, the developers say. They also emphasize that the project will be “transit-oriented” though details were sparse on how the development would incorporate new or existing trolley lines and buses. Moving the arena east does place it closer to the Old Town Transit Center.

You can read more of the publicly available information on the Midway Rising website. Whether the group can set themselves apart in the city’s eyes remains to be seen, and likely lies in the more-detailed proposals to come.

Midway Rising is one of at least five development groups bidding on the rights to the city-owned land, as the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, and affordable housing and a revamped arena are key pillars of other publicly known plans, too.

This competition is a “do-over” after the initial bidding process, won by Brookfield Properties, was tossed out for not complying with state law.

Brookfield is among the teams competing with Midway Rising this time around — it has already pitched its new plan for the space. An also-ran in the previous competition, Toll Brothers, has also promoted a new vision for the current competition.

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