Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Midday Edition

Emails Reveal More About City's Ash Street Lease Deal

101 Ash Street in Downtown San Diego. Aug. 21, 2020.
Shalina Chatlani
101 Ash Street in Downtown San Diego. Aug. 21, 2020.
The city of San Diego's lease-to-own agreement for the 101 Ash St. high-rise has been called the worst real estate deal in the city's history. Emails reviewed by The San Diego Union-Tribune investigative reporter Jeff McDonald fill in some holes in this complex story.

It was supposed to be a win-win.

San Diego would acquire a downtown high-rise being vacated by Sempra Energy, spend a minimal amount to clean it up, and quickly move some 800 city employees into badly-needed new quarters very near city hall.

But that's not what happened.


101 Ash St. turned out to have huge problems (asbestos, plumbing, wiring); the city's lease-to-purchase agreement cost millions; employees were evacuated weeks after moving in; at least four people, including the real estate assets manager who originally said the purchase was a bad idea, lost their jobs; and the city is out $60 million and counting with nothing to show for it.

RELATED: NBC7 Admits Story On 101 Ash Street Was Based On Forged Document

The building's owner, Sandor Shapery; minority owner, Doug Manchester; a volunteer real estate broker, Jason Hughes; a dealmaker, Cisterra Development; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the city council all figure in the saga, but there is much that remains unknown.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Watchdog reporter Jeff McDonald's latest story helps fill in some of the gaps. He joined Midday Edition on Tuesday.