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Redevelopment efforts continue throughout East County

One of the East County's biggest economic engines will be the Ryan Cos.' 108-acre RiverView at Santee. The mixed-use development will ultimately provide 1.9 million square feet of technology, R&D, entertainment, office and residential uses along the south bank of the San Diego River.

RiverView is in the process of delivering 63,500 square feet in six Class A buildings in its current phase -- buildings that, as of this writing, had already been substantially reserved.

RiverView will also have the ability to handle large corporate users with needs of up to 500,000 square feet or more if necessary.

Future phases will deliver a dozen or more two- and three-story buildings providing corporate headquarters, R&D facilities, general office, medical space and retail amenities. Also included in RiverView's master plan are a 40,000-square-foot movie theater with up to 14 screens, and a residential component featuring approximately 240 condos.

Matthew Reid, Ryan Cos. vice president, who says the project will be a model for smart growth, said the development is badly needed because 80 percent of Santee's residents leave the area to work in another part of the county.

Santee's principal shopping center is the 453,000-square-foot Trolley Square Shopping Center. With its food court and 250-seat outdoor public amphitheater, it has become a community focal point, but much more housing is being planned in Santee as well.

Barratt American's proposed Fanita Ranch community will encompass 2,600 acres in the northern part of Santee and provide 1,380 single-family homes and 1,400 acres of open space with public access to hiking trails and planned parks. All of the single-family homes will be detached units on lots ranging from 6,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet. Fanita Ranch accounts for about 25 percent of Santee's total land area, so what happens there will have an impact citywide. For now, there's no rush, at least until the housing market turns around. Barratt American is banking on that to happen sometime in 2009, if not before.

There also have long been plans to redevelop the old drive-in theater/swap meet property, but it hasn't happened yet.

La Mesa

A major portion of what is happening in La Mesa these days is connected with the Grossmont Hospital District's newly completed Sharp Grossmont Hospital and the remaining development ongoing around that campus.

In late July the hospital district was in the process of selling $115 million in general obligation bonds to help finance capital improvements in and around the new medical center.

Downtown La Mesa has grown up considerably since the city first began promoting smart growth concepts two decades ago. The community's La Mesa Village Plaza, with its condominiums over retail, was the first of some six transit-oriented developments considered models for smart growth.

The most recent of these projects is the Grossmont Trolley Station development along Fletcher Parkway that will feature 527 market-rate units, surrounding an upgraded trolley facility. Fairfield Residential, which has projects throughout San Diego County and beyond, is building the units.

The 929,000-square-foot Grossmont Center mall, originally developed in 1961, has continued to evolve over the decades. The newest arrival is Blue Wave, a female apparel store. The Boxing Club gymnasium plans to go into the old Good Guys space sometime this fall. Another new arrival will be The Dollar Tree, a discount retailer, and Empire Beauty. The project is owned by Delen Management of Illinois and is managed by CB Richard Ellis.

El Cajon

The city of El Cajon has continued a redevelopment effort that dates back to the 1970s with the East County Performing Arts Center.

Much of the work that followed was in connection with the cleanup of contaminated properties in the city's central business district. This ongoing brownfields program has catalogued the contaminated properties.

The El Cajon central business district, centered around 168 East Main St. and the adjacent area extending north from the downtown center along Magnolia Street to Interstate 8, is slated for mixed-use commercial and residential development.

New stores continue to be added at Westfield Parkway (formerly known as Parkway Plaza). Subway and Yogurberry are scheduled to open about the time of publication. Nestle's Toll House Cookies opened in July, The Beauty Experience opened in June, a remodeled Sun Diego and a new Sports Fever opened in June. Against all Odds, an urban apparel store, is slated to open at Parkway in the fall.

The county of San Diego's Department of Public Works is in the process of implementing its plan for the 757-acre zone surrounding Gillespie Field -- a plan designed to eventually transform the heavier industrial uses that have been typical for generations into more flex-space uses that would bring higher-paying jobs to the area.

Lemon Grove

Finally, the city of Lemon Grove has embarked on a major redevelopment effort destined to transform its downtown with new mixed-use retail, office and residential development.

While transformation is Lemon Grove's ultimate goal, the infrastructure must happen first. Some of these jobs include:

¥ Restoring the failing slope along Federal Boulevard;

¥ Upgrading the Federal Boulevard sewer main and repaving the street;

¥ Upgrading the Lemon Grove Avenue sewer main and repaving the street;

¥ Installing curb ramps at every existing curbed intersection;

¥ Continuing an aggressive street rehabilitation program;

¥ Renovating the city's recreation center;

¥ Continuing park improvements; and

¥ Ongoing rehabilitation of the sewer and storm drain systems.

All told, according to CB Richard Ellis, the East County has an office vacancy of 8.2 percent, an industrial vacancy of 3 percent and a retail vacancy ranging from a high of 2.6 percent in the La Mesa/San Carlos submarket to just 0.7 percent in the Santee/Lakeside submarket.

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