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Mission Valley still has room to grow

While those driving or walking in Mission Valley might think they are in a community that is virtually built out, they would be wrong.

An overview of Mission Valley and what is expected to happen next were the topics of an Urban Land Institute (ULI) San Diego/Tijuana breakfast Tuesday at the University Club.

Perry Dealy, Dealy Development president who moderated the program, said that despite the perception that nearly all the work has been completed in Mission Valley, billions of dollars in projects are still being planned that will continue to transform an area that had more dairy cattle than cars in the 1960s.

Dealy, who has represented U-T San Diego owner Douglas Manchester for many years, is overseeing the development of the U-T San Diego property.

While the newspaper and a press building will remain (the actual printing press operations are moving to Orange County), there is enough room on the property for a 250,000-square-foot Class A office tower, high-rise residential tower with 194 units, cafe and modest amount of retail, and promenade around the project. Dealy said the environmental documents for the project are being processed.

Paul Brown, a broker with Voit Commercial who has long specialized in office properties in Mission Valley, said while the vacancy in the submarket was running at about 12.1 percent, the Class A vacancy is significantly lower than that. The CoStar Group for example pegged the Class A vacancy at about 8.8 percentage as of the end of the second quarter.

Although Dealy touted that the U-T project will be a transit-oriented and walkable, Michael Stepner, NewSchool of Architecture faculty member and former city architect, was doubtful.

"How do you walk from the U-T to the trolley?" Stepner asked.

Dealy countered that the promenade will help alleviate some concerns, but Stepner said there was a fundamental flaw in community’s design decades ago.

"Every time you have to go east or west you have to take Friars Road. I hate to say it, but we're going to need more roads," Stepner said adding that he considers it life-threatening to cross Rancho Mission Road.

The biggest ongoing project in Mission Valley is the Civita development in the north. Marco Sessa, Sudberry Properties senior vice president, said the development has 306 completed apartments and 662 are under construction.

At buildout, Civita will have 4,780 residential units of various types, 900,000 square feet of commercial retail and office, public parks, a cultural center and heritage museum.

Outside Civita's boundaries, at Qualcomm Way and Camino del Rio North, is a three-acre Sudberry property known as Discovery Place that is large enough for a 125-room hotel and about 6,000 square feet of retail.

Also at the intersection, the San Diego River Park Foundation is planning an educational and interpretative center at Discovery Center at Grant Park.

As Brown noted, many other projects are in the earliest planning stages. A 57-acre portion on River Walk Golf Course, on what is known as the Levi-Cushman property, there is room for mixed-use development.

Nearby, Lankford & Associates, which has been involved with everything from Lane Field to Smart Corner, has proposed a 90,000-square-foot medical office building at Hotel Circle North and Taylor Street.

Other development possibilities involve the 18-acre Morris Cerullo land southwest across Interstate 8 from the Town & Country Hotel & Convention Center. Changes are possible at the Town & Country, which is expected to be sold to Lowe Enterprises.

On the Dinerstein property 291 units are planned at buildout northeast of the state Route 163 and I-8 interchange.

Plans at Hazard Center call for 473 housing units along with retail space and a new park.

Much about Mission Valley’s future development isn't known. Qualcomm Stadium parking lots may eventually be used for a new Chargers stadium, or there may be other uses possible for what Brown called the greatest development opportunity in the valley.

"Qualcomm is in the market for another million square feet," Brown said. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if they went there?"

Brown added that it would be possible to use at least part of the property for San Diego State University student housing.

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