San Diego pastor's business park project approved

Vacant lot to be turned into a mixed-use center


SAN DIEGO --

After a 12-year battle, a local pastor has been approved to develop land across the street from his church

Bishop George McKinney of the St. Stephen's Cathedral Church of God in Christ plans to turn the vacant area into a mixed-use center that will include a grocery store, fast food restaurant, health clinic, community center and underground parking garage. The idea has been a dream of McKinney's.

"We believe it's going to be a good use of the property," said McKinney, who added the center would provide up to 200 jobs for the community.

But the road to his vision has been marked with political-related problems. In 2008, it was revealed the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the area's development, chose another developer with close business ties to a board member. It was a big "conflict of interest," McKinney said.

"I was very sad because it was a waste and it was embarrassing. It was unfortunate," McKinney said.

He said he is now ready to move forward. McKinney admitted there were concerns from both the community and government officials of a faith-based group taking hold of the project. He said City Council members were worried that the church was going to apply for tax exemptions, which do apply to religious organizations in certain cases.

McKinney said he wants to contribute to the community and help provide revenue for the area. He has already helped develop nearby senior housing and said he has the best interest of the community in mind.

"This can be a beautiful oasis and I want to see it happen in my lifetime," said McKinney, who is 78 years old.

The development is expected to cost about $30 million, and the church has partnered with Los Angeles-based Dudley Ventures, who will help pay for the expenses.

McKinney must present plans to the City Council within the next 60 days.

The pastor hopes to break ground by March, with completion of the project within 3 years.

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