Shelli DeRobertis 5:08 p.m., June 19
City Notice Posted on Front Lawn Reveals Union-Tribune Seeking Condo, Office, and Retail Development Permits
San Diego developer Doug Manchester, who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune amid speculation that he was primarily attracted by the venerable but struggling newspaper's Mission Valley real estate, is apparently living up to expectations.
According to a "Posted Notification of Application" that has popped up on the front lawn of the newspaper's headquarters at 350 Camino de la Reina, the U-T wants to build "198 residential condominium units" along with 234,415 square feet of office space and a 6,470 square foot retail facility on the 12.86 acre site.
Called the "Union Tribune Mixed Use" project, the proposal "will be discussed by the Community Planning Group for the area in which the project is located," says the notice, dated May 9 and posted by the city's Developmental Services Department.
Interested parties "may contact Dottie Surdi of the Mission Valley Planning Group at (858) 349-2007 to inquire about community planning group meeting dates, times, and locations for community review of this project."
Ever since Don Bauder first reported Manchester's purchase of the Union-Tribune from Beverly Hills-based Tom Gores and his Platinium Equity group last September, speculation has been mounting about the La Jolla real estate and hotel mogul's ultimate intentions for the company's assets.
Manchester is no stranger to city development regulators.
As we reported earlier this week, Paul Robinson, the U-T owner's contract lobbyist for development and real estate issues, has been spending plenty of time at city hall of late dealing with alleged land use permit violations and related environmental problems at Manchester's posh Grand del Mar hotel and golf course in North City.
UPDATE: After the sign appeared, apparently prematurely, on its front lawn, the newspaper broke the story itself on its website this evening, saying the project would cost $200 million.
We have also learned that plans to build a Times Square-style news ticker on the property have already drawn internal resistance from city officials who have seen details of the proposal. In addition, officials have questioned the legality of current banner signage on the top of the existing U-T headquarters.
The paper quoted Manchester as saying:
"Our vision is to build on that brick-facade tradition with higher density, including upscale residential apartments/condos and a state-of-the-art Class A office building."
The paper added, "Market conditions will determine whether the residences are first rented or sold."
"I think it will set a new tone," Manchester was quoted as saying, "in the fact that people will not only be able to work there but be able to reside, shop and dine there -- all within walking distance from the various facilities, including rapid transit, because of the trolley being a few hundred yards away."
"You'll have a great view," he told his own paper. "That river walk is going to be nice."