For those traveling south on Interstate 15 through Mira Mesa, the enormous project is unmistakable. It is the Casa Mira View apartment development and it is transforming the landscape.
The Garden Communities development, whose first move-ins were in December 2012, has 1,620 units that are in various stages of construction.
The complex will have 2,167 units at buildout. Dee Snow, Garden manager of forward planning, said exactly when that will happen will depend on market conditions.
A CoStar Group report said that vacancy in the initial 465-unit phase was just 3.4 percent in a recent survey.
"Leasing is going very well. There is a strong demand on the I -15 corridor," Snow said.
CoStar reports an additional 345 units should be ready at Casa Mira View this November.
The project is a design of Los Angeles-based Togawa, Smith Martin Architects. Garden Communities, which has a local headquarters office in the University Towne Centre area, is acting as its own general contractor.
Ten percent of the units are being designated as affordable and unlike some developers who pay in-lieu fees instead of building the units themselves, Casa Mira View's affordable units are being incorporated into the project.
The luxury apartment project offers one- to two-bedroom floor plans ranging from 875 to 1,475 square feet. The market rate rents range from $1,800 to $2,700 per month.
About 60 percent of the units are two-bedroom floor plans, 35 percent are one-bedroom and 5 percent are three-bedroom models.
When asked who is renting thee units, Snow said 40 percent are young professionals, 40 percent are families, 10 percent are Marines and 10 percent are empty nesters.
Casa Mira View has already constructed 1,800 structured parking stalls in one garage with three more garages on the way.
"Each garage has one level that is subterranean and five stories above ground," Snow said.
The developer has had to spend millions of dollars in road improvements to alleviate the traffic.
While Garden declined to attach an overall value to its highway work, the construction included traffic improvements to the Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch areas.
Garden Communities also provided $1.6 million in mitigation funds to Caltrans to widen Mira Mesa Boulevard beneath the I-15 to four lanes in each direction.
As a luxury project, Casa Mira View has or will have many amenities that simply aren't available at existing properties.
Along with such features as a bowling alley and a beauty shop, Casa Mira View will have a wide range of amenities including a deli, a state of the art gym, boxing club, spinning room and a tech lounge.
"We're contemplating a splash zone and community garden, a spa; several pools; a community center with meeting areas including a karaoke area, massage and day spa; sculptures from artists all over the world, solar-powered garages and electric vehicle charging stations," Snow said.
Snow said while there may be elements that are shared among Garden's different complexes, that each one is different "and caters to each community."
Snow added that Casa Mira View has been successful from the beginning because it got the affected communities on board early in the process.
"The planning of Casa Mira View involved the Mira Mesa Planning Group, the Scripps Ranch Planning Group, and the Miramar Ranch North Planning Group, as well as the city and Garden's staff," Snow said.
"When our community center opened in the spring of 2014, all members of the local planning groups and city staff were rightfully very proud of what we had accomplished by working together."
Although Garden Communities declined to reveal just how many apartments it has constructed in San Diego County, it had a substantial presence here long before Casa Mira View was even conceived.
Garden's properties in the University Towne Centre area include the 1,257-unit Costa Verde Village; the 590-unit Towers at Costa Verde; the 1,500-unit La Jolla Crossroads; and the 560-unit La Regencia complex. The CoStar Group says neither La Jolla Crossroads nor La Regencia has any vacancy at all.
Not all the Garden properties are in UTC area. The company's 644-unit Greenfield Village apartment property is in Otay Mesa. That property's vacancy was also low, at just 3.1 percent according to CoStar.