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Smart Growth Award nominee

Millenia general plan features diverse land use mix, energy conservation

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Millenia, formerly known as the Eastern Urban Center, is a 206-acre high-density, transit-oriented, mixed-use development located in the 23,000-acre Otay Ranch Master Plan in Chula Vista. The project entitlements, including a Sectional Planning Area Plan, Tentative Map, Parks and Development Agreements and project EIR were unanimously approved by the City Council in September 2009.

The General Plan vision is for the project to serve as the vibrant urban core for the Otay Ranch and as an urban center for the larger eastern Chula Vista area and south San Diego County. The San Diego Association of Governments identifies the site as one of eight existing or planned smart growth urban centers in the San Diego region. The site is bordered on the west by the state Route 125 toll road, on the north by a 900,000-square-feet lifestyle center, on the east by existing and planned residential, commercial and institutional development. Planned land uses to the south include a university and technology park, and additional mixed-use development. The site is less than 4 miles from the international border and is expected to have a strong bi-national influence.

The plan features a diverse land use mix including 2,983 multiple family dwelling units (with densities ranging from 11 to 60 units per acre) and 3.5 million square feet of non-residential uses, including offices, retail and civic uses divided into 10 districts: two mixed-use gateway districts, a 30-acre employment district, civic district, a mixed-use Main Street district and five residential districts. The physical form of development is compact and vertical, making maximum use of public and private infrastructure investments. The average residential density is higher than the highest residential density found in any of the surrounding master-planned communities.

The plan has a fine-grained and walkable grid street system, a web of walking, bicycling and jogging trails, paths and paseos that link Millenia internally and with key destinations outside the plan area. The plan has a strong transit orientation, fully integrating both local and regional (South Bay Bus Rapid Transit) transit services. The entire project will be within walking distance of a transit stop. Bike use will be via arterial based bike lanes, bike routes and mixed flow on low speed internal streets.

An innovative urban parks plan replaces the conventional suburban parks program with a series of intimately scaled parks and plazas, each designed around a theme of energy. Using a unique equivalency program, the parks boast a high level of amenities and programming. No residential unit will be more than a three-and-a half minute walk from a park.

Housing types will be diverse and are expected to include motorcourt units, townhomes, rowhomes, live-work units, loft units, residential over retail, and senior housing. Fully 12.5 percent of the product is designated as affordable. Civic uses will include a mixed-use format library/office building, a two-story urban fire station, an urban, two-story elementary school and a cultural venue that could be a museum or performing arts venue, among other options.

Employment is a key component of the plan. At build out the project will generate 9,200 jobs, or about 1.25 jobs for each resident of the project.

Development of the site will not impact any sensitive habitats or species and the project will dedicate approximately 211 acres of open space to the Otay Ranch Preserve as a condition of development. Additionally, the project will put in place a permanent funding source to ensure perpetual maintenance of the dedicated lands that are part of the 11,000-acre preserve system.

The EIR concludes that the mixed-use nature and transit integration will reduce the trip generation by 38 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 31 percent. The project is one of three San Diego projects enrolled in the LEED-ND pilot program. An application has been submitted requesting Silver certification. The project is one of only three projects in an energy modeling study conducted by the National Energy Center for Sustainable Communities and others, which will identify energy conservation technologies that can be integrated in the buildings and infrastrucuture.

[CAPTION=A view of Millenia’s Main Street District towards the Town Square.]

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