SDSU Mission Valley Developments Get Green Light

CSU Board of Trustees votes to approve affordable housing project and first residential and retail project at SDSU Mission Valley.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Rendering shows a residential and retail project at SDSU Mission Valley. (Courtesy of AvalonBay)
Rendering shows a residential and retail project at SDSU Mission Valley. (Courtesy of AvalonBay)

San Diego State University is entering a new phase of its Mission Valley development. At the Wednesday, Nov. 8 California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, the university received approval for two developments: the first affordable housing project and the first residential and retail project.

“We promised the public that affordable housing would be one of the first priorities on the site, and we are following through on that commitment with a project that includes apartments that will be available at below-market rents to residents making an average of 50 percent of the San Diego area median income,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre.

“I am also particularly excited that this development is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification for sustainability and with a commitment to public art,” de la Torre said, also explaining that this was possible given the shared values between SDSU and Chelsea Investment Corporation, selected to develop this first affordable housing project at SDSU Mission Valley.

For the separate residential and retail project, the developer, AvalonBay Communities, will be responsible for financing, constructing, operating and maintaining the project. SDSU/CSU will serve as the landlord and receive ground lease payments from AvalonBay.

“This project embodies the vision that we have for the residential and retail at SDSU Mission Valley and we believe it will set a positive precedent for all future development projects to come,” de la Torre said.

Affordable Housing

The first affordable housing project, to be developed by Chelsea Investment Corporation, is set to be constructed on a parcel in the northeastern portion of the SDSU Mission Valley site. The seven-story building will provide 186 dwelling units, with 184 designated as income-restricted units and two manager units. These affordable housing units, ranging from one to four bedrooms, will target households with incomes averaging 50 percent of the area median income.

“We celebrate this key milestone with the CSU Board of Trustees and SDSU Mission Valley as another step toward bringing nearly 200 affordable housing apartment homes to the community,” said Charles Schmid, CEO of Chelsea Investment Corporation. “SDSU’s commitment to affordable housing is setting a superior standard for master planned developments in San Diego."

Additionally, the project will feature a 6,220-square-foot child care center operated by Episcopal Community Services, and a range of amenities including community resource rooms, a media center, outdoor lounge spaces, and bike storage rooms with electric vehicle charging stations. The project is also designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, highlighting its commitment to sustainability.

Chelsea Investment Corporation will seek out tax-exempt bonds, federal and state tax credits, and California Housing and Community Development (HCD) funds from the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) program and California Strategic Growth Council funds from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program, to finance the project and will not receive any subsidy from the CSU.

With the Board’s approval, CSU and Chelsea will execute a disposition and development agreement, outlining the key terms of the 75-year ground lease. Construction is anticipated to begin in March 2025 with occupancy expected in June 2027.

"We are honored for our partnership and are equally committed to not only providing beautiful, affordable apartments that families are proud to call home but to provide an on-site childcare center for the broader community, said Schmid. "Together with SDSU Mission Valley, we aim to not just provide affordable housing but to change lives for the better.” 

Residential and Retail

The Board of Trustees also approved the terms of a 99-year ground lease with AvalonBay, which will develop the first residential and retail project at SDSU Mission Valley. The project will be a mixed-use building with 621 apartments, ranging from studios to three-bedroom units, as well as 30,000 square feet of leasable ground-floor retail space, including a grocery store.

“We are honored to be a part of SDSU’s visionary master plan that is set to drive future growth for the university and the City of San Diego,” said AvalonBay SVP Mark Janda. “We look forward to launching Avalon Mission Valley and contributing to the vitality of the surrounding community.”

AvalonBay is also seeking California Strategic Growth Council funds from the AHSC program. Construction is set to begin after June 2024, with an agreement to begin no later than June 2025. Occupancy of the first units is anticipated to occur approximately 24 months after the start of construction.

Starting in June 2024, AvalonBay will make annual lease payments. The annual lease represents fair-market value for the property. SDSU will use the annual lease payment to make debt payments on the revenue bonds taken out in 2020 to fund the initial site infrastructure and initial improvements needed to prepare the site for development.

Both the affordable housing and residential and retail projects mark another step forward for the development of SDSU Mission Valley, realizing the long-term vision for the redevelopment of the former stadium site. In addition to Snapdragon Stadium, which opened in 2022, SDSU is also making progress toward the completion of some 80 acres of park and open space, including a 34-acre river park that is set to be completed near the end of this year.

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