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Mixed-use Heritage Towne Center brings neighbors together

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Heritage Towne Center, the new mixed-use center that anchors the village core in Otay Ranch's village of Heritage, is on the leading edge of "lifestyle centers," that are on the drawing boards of retail developers across the country.

Heritage Towne Center, the new mixed-use center in Otay Ranch features neighborhood retail establishments, 91 affordable apartments for seniors on the upper two floors, and community gathering places.

The center sits right along the main street in the village of Heritage, creating a downtown ambiance in the village core. With its mature landscaping and eclectic architecture, the center seems to have been established over decades.

"The center serves the community on many levels," said Rob Cameron, executive vice president of The Otay Ranch Co., developer of the center and the 5,300-acre community of Otay Ranch. "With its shops, services and daycare center, it meets the day-to-day shopping needs of village residents," he said. "And with its inviting gathering spaces, monument-size clock tower, and outdoor eating places, it provides a social element as well."

The center is currently 100 percent leased. Tenants include Cotixan Mexican Restaurant, Nail Time and Spa, Postal Connections, The Treatery, Fairlane Cleaners, Eduard, A Taste of Europe, Great American Mortgage, Heritage Park Caf?, Dr. Marilou Quiroz, DDS, Commonwealth Land Title Co., Bambino's Children's Haircutting, Chantico, Curves, Elena's Hair Salon, Wiggles and Giggles, a children's activity center, and Kid's Depot, a 10,000-square-foot daycare center.

In addition to 38,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, the center features 91 affordable apartments for seniors on upper levels and a plaza that surrounds a 50-foot-tall evergreen tree. The plaza, designed for community gatherings and impromptu get-togethers, features Otay Ranch's own Hall of Fame with commemorative bricks honoring people and companies involved in the creation of the community.

"Heritage Towne Center was fashioned after traditional American Main Streets," said David Lorimer of Lorimer Hayes Architects. "Visible details such as ornate trim around windows, arches, deep set doors, shutters, awnings and decorative metal accents are reminiscent of historic towns around the country."

"The architecture also includes the generous use of natural stone, trees and water, complementing the architecture of nearby facilities," he added.

Many shops in the center open onto East Palomar, bringing activity onto the street to increase the Main Street ambiance of the village. Other inviting elements that increase pedestrian traffic are extra wide sidewalks shaded by Mexican fan palms, diagonal street parking to slow traffic and pedestrian-scale lighting.

In addition to Lorimer Hayes Architects, the development team included Rimrock Construction Inc. of Newport Beach, Calif., and ADL Planning Associates of Carlsbad.

Heritage Towne Center is the final component in Heritage's village activity center, which also includes Heritage Elementary School, the 10-acre Heritage Park and the 67,000-square-foot Sharp Rees-Stealy medical center.

"The synergy created by the proximity of the park, school and town center, complemented by the pedestrian circulation system (paseos, trails, cart paths and promenade streets) is at the heart of Otay Ranch's village concept," Cameron said. "With the interplay of all of these facilities, residents are creating a vibrant social center that's taking on a life of its own."

And residents are not the only ones to notice. Otay Ranch was honored by the San Diego section of the American Planning Association for the design of the "Heart of Heritage," and professional planners from throughout the state have toured Otay Ranch as part of the American Planning Association's California Statewide Conference.


Metz is principal of Metz Public Relations.

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