San Diego Business Journal

Real Estate: City Needs

Better Communication

On Ballpark Project Goals

Better coordination between government agencies and more communication to the public about the Downtown ballpark's cultural benefits are needed to ensure redevelopment success, said speakers at a University of San Diego conference.

"If you can't articulate the return on investment of such projects you won't get support," said Norman B. Rice, a former mayor of Seattle, who delivered the keynote address at the Jan. 18 event. "Don't be afraid of telling the public about the benefits of the Downtown ballpark, both financially and culturally."

The event, which drew local real estate and finance leaders, was the fourth annual Real Estate Conference held at the Hahn Center on campus.

Rice said his city's Downtown redevelopment effort included building a new stadium, a three-block-square mixed retail and entertainment development, and rehabilitating historic commercial buildings and residences.

"We brought major retailers to downtown Seattle, such as Old Navy, Nordstrom and Tiffany, and from the effort we generated an estimated $100 million in income for the city over 20 years," Rice said.

His comments on the importance of explaining the cultural benefits of downtown revitalization to the public were echoed by Jack McGrory, executive vice president of the San Diego Padres. McGrory also said there was a lack of coordination between various government agencies in the area of the proposed ballpark.

The city is planning to realign Park Boulevard to take advantage of the harbor view. However, the San Diego Unified Port District has approved a high rise on its land in the Park Boulevard view corridor, McGrory said. Port district officials said they were trying to protect view corridors along other streets.

Morgan Dean Oliver, CEO of DDR OliverMcMillan, whose firm is active in Downtown redevelopment, said the construction of Horton Plaza 15 years ago was not enough to reduce decay in the neighborhood. The solution isn't to build exclusively commercial developments, however.

Residential developments catering to all economic classes need to be built there as well, he said. He cautioned the audience that other cities' experience in redevelopment was that it usually cost more than predicted and government help was frequently needed.

He also mentioned that coordination between local government agencies and the private sector needs to be improved.

'If you can't articulate the return on investment of such projects you won't get support.'

Norman B. Rice

Former Mayor of Seattle