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New Civic Center Options Unveiled

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

 

The city of San Diego’s downtown development corporation says building a new city hall will save the city money over the next 50 years.  CCDC’s financial analysis concludes plans submitted by two competing developers are both cheaper than renovating the existing Civic Center. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

 

CCDC compared the cost of various options, including renovating existing civic center buildings or moving city operations to Qualcomm or the Sports Arena. Their analysis concludes even the cheapest solution would cost the city more than a $billion over 50 years.

 

Two developers, Houston-based Hines and Portland-based Gerding Edlin,  say they can redevelop the four block civic center for less than that.

 

Paul Twardowski of Hines says his proposal includes a new city hall and a 19 story high rise for city employees He says the plan  would be financed using tax exempt bonds, and save the city more than $200 million over 50 years.   .

 

Twardowski : Doing nothing is a more costly option and it certainly is viable and it saves a lot of money that can be used for other things.

 

Hines’ plan is considered the more conservative of the two, both fiscally and architecturally.

 

The second developer, Gerding Edlin, plans to include more water and energy saving features.

Tom Cody of Gerding, says he could provide even more space and save the city even more money than Hines : over $400 million dollars.

 

How would he do that? Like Hines, Gerding’s plan would include a  new city hall, but its high rise for city employees would be much taller.. 34 stories high.

 

Cody: And by doing that , we free up two development sites that the city currently owns and we’ve asked the city to allow us to purchase those.

 

Gerdin’s project would include private development of condos and retail around the civic plaza.

 

Critics, like city councilman-elect Carl Demaio,   say the city should focus on roads and water pipes rather than a new city hall . But CCDC plans to recommend one of the two developers next month, and send the matter to the city council for a vote in October.

 

Alison St John, KPBS news

 

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