Appraisals: Proposed Site of SoccerCity Worth $110.1M

Proposed SoccerCity development San Diego

The ongoing debate over the proposed SoccerCity in San Diego has taken a new twist, as appraisals for the development’s site have come in at $110.1 million. 

There were two third party appraisals of city-owned land released on Tuesday. One concerns the site of Qualcomm Stadium, the former home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers that would be demolished to make way for SoccerCity. That property, according to its appraisal, is worth $82.8 million. Meanwhile, a separate appraisal stated that the land occupied by the Chargers’ practice facility is worth $27.3 million.

SoccerCity has been pitched by FS Investors as a development that would include a new stadium for an MLS expansion franchise. A November referendum on the proposal had been anticipated, but the San Diego City Council recently voted to remove the $5 million in funding for the special election that would have included SoccerCity.

The latest appraisals focused on several variables, and were conducted by separate firms. More from Times of  Diego:

David Davis, in a cover letter to the city’s Real Estate Assets Department, noted that he was asked for “the most probable price that the portion being disposed of should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the willing buyer and willing seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming that the price is not affected by coercion or undue stimulus.”

Davis also said the property was valued as if the existing stadium is no longer operational and no stadium expenses were deducted from the appraised value. The possibility of underground soil contamination was not considered for the report, he said.

According to Davis, the main stadium property was worth $73.8 million as of March 2, with the set-aside wetlands $9 million.

A second firm, Hendrickson Appraisal Co. of San Diego, investigated the Chargers’ 50-acre practice facility, which the team is preparing to vacate as part of its move to Los Angeles.

With the appraisals now in place, one of the biggest questions for the endeavor is whether mayor Kevin Faulconer can gather enough support to move forward with the special election. The mayor has said that he would restore funding for the November election, and attempt to work with the city council to move forward with the plan, as at least five council members would have to vote in favor of scheduling the election.

Whether the latest appraisals affect the council’s ultimate decision remains to be seen. More from the Voice of San Diego:

If that is indeed the price developers would have to pay for the land, it disarms one of the biggest criticisms of SoccerCity. The initiative’s language had previously left open the possibility that FS Investors could pay as little as $10,000 for the land. The appraisal seems to clarify the city will get real money for a real asset.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the city to subtract the costs of public improvements FS Investors makes to the property from annual lease payments. That’s what the city does for the operators of Belmont Park, for instance, where repairs made to the aging beachfront property are deducted out of annual lease payments through subsidies referred to as “rent credits.”

Late Monday, [city council president Myrtle] Cole issued an unambiguous statement: She won’t be changing her vote on budgeting money for a special election. All five Democrats on the Council were similarly clear: Voting on SoccerCity and the mayor’s hotel tax hike for a Convention Center could wait until 2018.

And they still may not budge. Their comments in support of Measure L, a voter-approved measure that defers initiatives to general elections, didn’t include caveats for potential windfalls from land sales. They’d have to backtrack in just a few weeks, and potentially abandon a progressive coalition standing behind them.

The timing of a referendum has become a concern in regards to SoccerCity, as some worry that placing the issue on the November 2018 general election ballot will significantly harm San Diego’s chances of landing an MLS expansion franchise. Four clubs are slated to be chosen from this round of expansion, as MLS is expected to announce two later this year and an additional pair sometime in 2018. San Diego is one of 12 candidates in the mix for an expansion franchise.

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