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Life at the ranch is good for businesses too

Otay Ranch, a 5,300-acre master-planned community in Chula Vista, has been a hit with homebuyers since its inception in 1999. To date, the pedestrian-friendly community comprised of a network of amenity-packed urban villages has sold more than 4,000 homes. But Otay Ranch residents aren't the only ones enjoying life at the ranch. Businesses are finding it a good place to call home too.

Since last summer, some 20 shops, restaurants and service providers have opened in Heritage Towne Center. The mixed-use center anchors the core of Heritage, the first completed Otay Ranch village.

It features a variety of businesses that cater to the daily needs of Otay Ranch residents, such as a postal services store, mini-market and dry cleaners. The fully-leased center's tenants also include Chantico, a family-owned shop specializing in Mexican decor and jewelry, a Curves fitness club for women, a hair salon and a daycare facility. Dining options include Cotixan Mexican Restaurant, Quik Wok and The Treatery.

In addition to Heritage Towne Center, a host of other new malls are opening in the area and encouraging Otay Ranch residents to shop close to home. Large retailers like Target, Lowe's and Kohl's are now only a stone's throw away, as are a variety of popular restaurants such as Islands, Wendy's and Subway. While serving Otay Ranch and other eastern Chula Vista residents, these new retailers and dining establishments are also creating jobs and generating sales tax revenues that benefit the entire city.

Located in the heart of Otay Ranch is Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Center. With 205 employees, 65 percent of whom live in Otay Ranch, the 67,000-square-foot medical facility is one of Chula Vista's largest employers. According to Donna Mills, administrator and CEO at Sharp Rees-Stealy, it was important for the company to expand its services to continue to provide great care for patients in the midst of tremendous growth in the South Bay.

"With a projected 10,000 new homes to be built over the next three decades, Otay Ranch was the ideal venue for a state-of-the art medical center," Mills said. "It was the perfect addition to our Chula Vista facility which had been serving South Bay residents for many years."

Among the city's other large employers with strong ties to Otay Ranch are Sweetwater Union High School District and Chula Vista Elementary School District. The districts' well-regarded schools, many of which are new, are a key attraction for both families and businesses considering moving to the Otay Ranch area. In the future, Otay Ranch will also be home to a four-year university. Currently in the planning phase, the University Park and Research Center will be located on a 1,500-acre site and designed to blend in with the pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods of Otay Ranch. A unique partnership of public and private universities will share the campus with prestigious research institutes and related businesses. The campus will also include a 150-acre business park and, ultimately, stores, cafes, housing and even a hotel.

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