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Smart Growth Award project nominee

Citronica to provide affordable housing in urban village setting

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Between its location right next to the trolley line and pursuit of the highest standard in energy efficiency, Hitzke Development Cos.' mixed-use affordable housing project, Citronica, was an obvious candidate for an Urban Land Institute Smart Growth Award.

To be located on a 1.6-acre site in Lemon Grove, the project is targeting an urban village concept with affordable housing located above 3,650 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial space, said Ginger Hitzke, president of Hitzke Development Cos. Located just north of the intersection of Lemon Grove and Broadway avenues, the project is walking distance from a variety of businesses, services and employment opportunities.

"That particular area is a really perfect redevelopment opportunity," Hitzke said.

Citronica plans include two buildings, to contain 56 family apartment units and 80 units for seniors living on fixed incomes.

Citronica is located in an area populated by dining, shopping, grocery stores, an urgent care facility, civic center, future pedestrian parks, bus stops and very near to the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot and the newly redesigned state Route 94 off-ramp at Lemon Grove Avenue. To encourage use of public transit, the project includes pedestrian connections to commercial areas and a linear park running between the residential property and the trolley station. Also located at the site will be a vehicle drop-off point for the trolley station. Bicycle storage is also available for residents and a carpool communication center will encourage ride sharing.

Although the development will become an urban hub, at 45 units per acre it is actually the minimum density allowed by the site's present zoning, Hitzke said.

Plans include two buildings, to contain 56 family apartment units and 80 units for seniors living on fixed incomes. Construction on the project will be completed in two phases, each worth $25 million.

Citronica was designed by FoundationForForm architect Mike Burnett to qualify for the LEED Platinum standard, the highest building sustainability rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Along with high-tech energy efficiency measures, plans included ultra low-flow toilets and other water fixtures, Hitzke said.

Sustainable design elements include recycled and locally manufactured building materials, low-E windows, motion detector controlled-lighting, low-flow water fixtures, efficient irrigation systems and highly efficient heating and cooling systems. The project will also include rooftop solar arrays and photovoltaic panels integrated into the south face of the building. A minimum of 50 percent of construction waste will be recycled and diverted from local landfills.

"We're creating a really livable enjoyable environment for people to live and work," Hitzke said.

Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom has been supportive of the project. Sessom was vocal in her opposition of Helix Water District's decision to charge capacity fees for new water access. The additional fee will increase costs for the Citronica project. Because the project is an affordable development, rents cannot be increased to absorb the additional costs.

The project is important to the City of Lemon Grove because it moves toward the state-mandated affordable housing goals for the region, Sessom said.

Construction has not yet begun on the project; Hitzke Development Corp. is waiting on funding from state bonds dedicated to affordable housing projects. The tentative completion date for Citronica is December 2011.

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