SAN DIEGO— “Create complete communities” was the key takeaway at the Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana’s April Breakfast—The Future Look of Master Planned Communities. The event was attended by more than 150 real estate, development and planning experts and shed light on future suburban communities in the region.
“Live, work, play” was a common theme throughout the discussion, moderated by City of San Diego Civic Innovation Lab’s Howard Blackson, as panelists Todd Galarneau of the Corky McMillin Cos., Rita Brandin of Newland Communities and Gary Levitt of Sea Breeze Properties LLC, weighed in on the importance of these key ingredients for a successful community.
All three developers noted the importance of understanding the land and who will occupy it, often resulting in a mix of open and recreational space, high-density housing, detached product and retail and/or office space.
“We’re focused on balancing a mix of traditional and high density products in our communities,” said Brandin. Newland Communities has delivered 185,000 lots to homebuilders, including lots at 4S Ranch in San Diego, a community that blends a variety of home types, stores, shops and schools.
At North City, Sea Breeze Properties’ new project in San Marcos, providing space for multiple stages of life is critical. “At North City, we’re appealing to all demographics. Being located near CSU San Marcos, we want to appeal to young students and keep them once they graduate and decide to settle down,” said Levitt.
The developer is also hoping to attract residents aging out of places like Carmel Valley. He suggested that once residents no longer need the big house and the office commute, they can settle at North City where they’ll have everything within walking distance.
Millenia in Otay Ranch, a 60-acre master planned community now underway by the Corky McMillin Cos., will provide a mix of approximately 3,000 homes in five residential districts with urban lofts, condos and attached homes. “At Millenia, we’re striving to create a sense of place. Here, residents will live in an incredibly dynamic community that has everything they need,” said Galarneau.
Millenia has plans to create approximately 1.25 jobs per resident. “The key for us is bringing in employment, which will support other components of the plan,” said Galarneau. With a location near the US-Mexico border, the developer is hoping that Millenia will be a place for cultures to converge, both socially and on the employment front.
Levitt noted that well-planned urban communities will draw today’s “progressive” employers. “The office park of the future is the one across the street,” he said.
“Trails and community amenities will be the connective tissue of Millenia,” added Galarneau. According to the community’s website, every Millenia resident will be within a three-minute walk to a park.
“At North City, we’re fighting to create a walkable space that has places worth walking to,” said Levitt. He added, “We want people to park their car on a Friday night and not worry about it until Monday morning.”
In closing, all developers noted their efforts to “crack” density. As land becomes scarce and density increases, projects become more complex. “As long as we find quality builders that will maintain high standards, we will be able to manage density,” added Levitt.
“Our panelists provided excellent insight about how to approach community development in response to today’s home dwellers, from Millennials to baby boomers,” said Mary Lydon, Executive Director for ULI San Diego/Tijuana.