“Take me out to the ballgame” is starting to mean “take me out to the hottest part of town” as urban redevelopment around ballparks is transforming former parking lots, blighted properties and usable space into metropolitan hot-spots filled with retail, restaurants and community public areas.
Just this last week, the San Francisco Giants announced that they’re eyeing converting Giants Parking Lot A into Mission Rock – a mixed-use development that would be home to a new Anchor Steam brewery, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, affordable housing and tons of parkland, including a public boardwalk with bridge views.
“We are eager to engage with San Francisco voters to share our community’s vision of open access along the waterfront, new jobs, neighborhood serving retail, new parks and an unprecedented level of affordable housing,” said Larry Baer, Giants president and CEO.
Sports infrastructure has long been known as a valuable catalyst for urban redevelopment with city planners, civic groups, developers and the like working in tandem to re-energize ballpark areas and revitalize neighborhoods.
Populas says Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards is widely credited for revitalizing downtown Baltimore and inspiring nearly 20 other Major League Baseball franchises to build in urban areas over the last two decades.
The power of sports facilities on urban development? For the O’s, attendance jumped to over 3 million a year, with 1,750 new housing units and 500,000 square feet of retail space built in the surrounding areas immediately following completion of the park.
From Baltimore, take a trip down I-95 and witness the amazing transformation of Southeast D.C. thanks to my favorite ball team, the Washington Nationals.
When Lerner Enterprises broke ground on the Nats’ stadium in 2006, the area was anecdotally known as a wasteland of dilapidated buildings and unsafe neighborhoods. Today, the area all around Nationals Park is emerging as an urban community bursting with desirable places to work, eat and play. Among the hippest is The Yards, a 42-acre redevelopment along the Anacostia River that comprises some 1.8 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail and cultural spaces, 2,700 rentals and homes, plus a riverfront park and esplanade.
And in 2017 we have a new ballpark in Atlanta to enjoy. Though the Braves moving their home out of the downtown to suburban Cobb County, SunTrust Park will be anchored by a mixed-use development. Comcast is the first confirmed tenant of an office tower planned to overlook the ballpark.
As a fan of baseball it’s great to see that America’s pastime is also good for commercial real estate. When you can take in a game and enjoy a vibrant downtown area all in the same day, it’s a win-win for fans and the local community.
Chris Ware is Vice President, Business Development at NAIOP.