It’s official: The city of Anaheim, California, has sold Angel Stadium and 153 acres of surrounding land to SRB Management.
In a 5-2 vote on Oct. 6, the Anaheim City Council finalized its approval of the landmark deal after a second reading of the Disposition and Development Agreement and Zoning Code Amendment.
The cash price for the land—which was originally valued at $320 million—had been reduced to $150 million in exchange for 466 affordable housing units and a seven-acre flagship park.
“This is a historical day in Anaheim,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said at the close of the meeting. “This day will be remembered for a long time to come.”
Sidhu said the deal ensures the Angels will remain in Anaheim “for a long, long period.” While they are contractually obligated to stay until at least 2050, Sidhu indicated the ball club potentially will remain through 2075.
“There’s a lot more work to be done to see this vision become a reality,” he said. “But after tonight, our path forward to begin to realize this incredible opportunity for the city will be clear.”
Despite enthusiasm from the majority of the council, the deal received sharp criticism from councilmembers Jose Moreno and Denise Barnes—both of whom voted against it.
Moreno pointed out that the appraisal is based upon 210,000 square feet of office space, about 195,000 square feet of retail space, and 3,400 housing units.
However, the site plan proposed by Arte Moreno, owner of SRB and the Angels baseball team, calls for 2.7 million square feet of office space, 1.75 million square feet of retail space, and over 5,000 housing units.
“Given the large difference in development assumptions, is the property value impacted?” Councilman Moreno asked. “Should it be reappraised or was it reappraised? This was a question I posed last week that was not answered.”
Moreno drew attention to a detail in the land appraisal summary that valued the 133 acres surrounding the stadium between $370 million and $470 million. If the city could have entertained that option, he said, the value per acre would have increased to about $3.5 million.
“Why did we not pursue that option, where we actually get to keep the stadium and the land that it sits on, and get more value per acre?” he asked.
Sidhu replied, “We are not discussing the appraisal or the values at this time. I’m going to ask you that we will not entertain those questions.”
When Moreno asked if any value had been given to Angel Stadium and the City National Grove of Anaheim theater, Kevin Kelley, the city’s contracted attorney for negotiations, said, “The appraiser assigned no value to the stadium and the Grove because, at [the land’s] highest and best use, those things aren’t there.”
Moreno said since the acreage value of the land doesn’t change when you add the stadium and the Grove, the deal “seems like a gift of public funds” to a private owner.
Shortly thereafter, he introduced an amendment to withdraw the $170 million purchase credit for affordable housing and the flagship parking, with the stipulation that the cost be paid to the city within six months of closing the sale.
The motion for that amendment—which was supported by Barnes—did not pass.
For her part, Barnes raised questions about the structure of the payments.
“Why are we still agreeing to have the money be paid over a five year period and not just up front? Who put that on the plate?” she asked.
Greg Garcia, the deputy city manager, said, “That was just something that came out in negotiations.”
According to the proposal, Anaheim, which is due to receive $45 million upon City Council approval, will get $20 million annually over the next five years.
“I definitely will not sign off on something where we will not get our money up front of the deal,” Barnes said. “I think we all should step back [and] reconsider this [and] try to make it a win-win that has some integrity and honesty.”
Before voting in favor of the deal, Councilman Trevor O’Neil reiterated that his support for it had not changed.
“If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law’s against you argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell. And what I’m hearing is still a lot of pounding and yelling,” he said in response to Barnes and Moreno’s objections.
“This is a good deal. It’s a fair market deal. We’re getting appraised value for the land, we’re creating jobs, creating affordable housing, much needed park space, and $10 million in new revenue for the city annually.”
Councilmember Lucille Kring echoed O’Neil’s support, praising the “fabulous project” that aims to put “a city within a city.”
For her, mixing affordable housing units with market price units benefits families through inclusivity.
“There’s no way to tell if you live in the low or very low apartment or [if you] live in the penthouse. You’re all going to enjoy every single amenity that’s offered, if you’re in that building,” Kring said.
“I think that is good for a community. The kids get to be friends with kids from all levels of income. And that is good for kids to be around other kids that have less or have more.”
Mike Lyster, chief communications officer for the city, told The Epoch Times that the next step will be a close of sale, which is expected to take place in late 2021 or early 2022.
A lawsuit, filed by the People’s Homeless Task Force of Orange County in February, seeks to overturn the land sale vote.
“Any sort of litigation could potentially delay final close and development, but we’re confident with our process that’s being put into question here,” Lyster said.
If the lawsuit proceeds, he said that “all of the aspects of the agreement will remain in place, they just get on hold as litigation moves through.”
Lyster said the city will request to have the lawsuit dismissed next week, on either Oct. 15 or Oct. 16.