Date Near as Court Rulings,
Land Deals Aid City Plan
BY MIKE ALLEN
San Diego redevelopment officials said they should have possession of all the property within the Padres ballpark footprint by the end of this month and start demolition and other work by February.
“If all continues on the track it’s on now, we should have possession of the ballpark site by the end of this month,” said Donna Alm, spokeswoman for the Centre City Development Corp., the city’s Downtown redevelopment agency.
Alm said the city already has possession of a couple of parcels in the East Village area, and is close to obtaining possession of nine other properties needed before work on the ballpark can begin. She said property owners of several parcels have not accepted the city’s final offers, but those disputes will be handled by the courts.
In another pro-ballpark development, Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell denied a motion by an environmental group asking all work on the ballpark be stopped.
The Coalition Advocating Redevelopment Excellence was trying to stop work until its lawsuit is heard in March. The CARE lawsuit, and another suit filed by the Clarion Bayview Hotel, are challenging the adequacy of the city’s environmental report on the project.
The city was able to convince McConnell if the work was not allowed to continue, the delay would threaten the ballpark’s original opening by April 2002.
Uncertainty Over Opening Day
But the lawsuits and an initiative campaign launched against the ballpark last year has caused enough uncertainty that even top city and ballpark officials privately say even an optimistic completion date is July 2002.
In an effort to stop a possible second ballot measure on the ballpark, both the city and the Padres filed lawsuits against the organizers of the initiative early this month.
Once the city has control of the ballpark site, its hired contractor will begin work on the infrastructure phase of the project, razing several vacated warehouses, and relocating water and sewer lines.
In December, the City Council approved a $41.5 million contract with Sverdrup Civil Inc. for this work.
While the city’s agreement with the Padres spelled out a $411 million price tag for a 46,000 capacity ballpark in 1998, that cost has already increased.
The CCDC said land acquisition costs may reach $100 million , about $19 million over the original estimate. The total land purchase and infrastructure component of the ballpark was originally estimated at $143.5 million.
While the memorandum of understanding between the city and Padres clearly makes any cost overruns for the ballpark construction the responsibility of the Padres, there is no provision for cost overruns for the land purchase/infrastructure part of the project.
$56 Million So Far
The agreement states if the cost exceeds the estimated cap, the city, the CCDC, and the Padres “shall endeavor cooperatively to locate additional funding.”
According to a report by City Manager Michael Uberuaga last month, the city has already spent more than $56 million on the ballpark project.
The amount spent or allocated by the CCDC was $46.5 million for land acquisition, relocation and other costs. The city has reimbursed the Padres $9.15 million for a variety of architectural and engineering costs, planning and other costs associated with the ballpark’s design.
In addition, the city has paid some $1.5 million for utility relocation work that was needed at the ballpark district through its contract with Sverdrup.
Meanwhile, the Padres, the city’s development partners in the estimated $1 billion redevelopment deal that includes hotels, offices and retail, say the ballclub has spent in excess of $20 million on the project over more than two years.
Last week, the Padres announced the project’s construction contractor to be a joint venture made up of three companies, the Clarke Construction Group, based in Bethesda, Md.; and two local firms, Neilsen Dillingham Builders and Douglas E. Barnhart Inc.