The HomeFed Corp. is in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city of Chula Vista to potentially serve as the master developer for the first public four-year university in the South County, said Scott Donaghe, a principal planner for the university project.
The exclusive negotiation agreement allows the Carlsbad-based HomeFed to be the only developer negotiating with the city about planning and developing the much talked about 370-acre university and innovation district.
“(The agreement) allows HomeFed the opportunity and the responsibility of doing most of the planning and the work in establishing the university and the research center,” said Councilman Rudy Ramirez.
Ramirez said that despite HomeFed possibly acting as the developer, the city would still give direction in development and planning.
“We will have a lot of input,” he said. “That’s part of the negotiations.”
Negotiations are in their third 90-day negotiating period after the City Council allowed city staff to enter negotiations with HomeFed about a year ago.
In June council approved an extension for the latest rounds of talks.
Ramirez said negotiations are taking longer than expected because of the complexity of reaching a master development agreement.
Although an official agreement has yet to be made for HomeFed to take over development plans, a major hurdle was recently cleared when both the city and the development corporation verbally agreed to an operating and business plan for the university; however, a formal agreement still needs to be drafted,
“Now it is up to the attorneys to get terms on paper,” Donaghe said.
Chula Vista is seeking help from outside counsel in drafting the terms of the deal.
Because the terms for the operating and business plan are not yet finalized by attorneys, Donaghe said he could not specify what the terms were.
This also will be HomeFed’s first foray into university development and the second project the private corporation is involved in within the city.
HomeFed is also planning a 3,000-acre portion of the Otay Ranch general planning area.
Most recently HomeFed developed the San Elijo Hills community in San Marcos.
Donaghe said the city is looking for a master developer because it does not have the knowledge or expertise to bring a university to Chula Vista.
“We’re not developers, we’re regulators,” Donaghe said.
As part of a land offer agreement between the city and the Otay Land Company, a subsidiary of HomeFed, the city received 50 acres of university land and 150 acres of preserved land. In exchange, the city gave HomeFed more density of parcels for the Otay Ranch general planning area.