By Ken Williams | Editor
Work has begun on Millennium Mission Valley, a high-density, mixed-use community being developed by Dinerstein Companies.
The 5.37-acre property was formerly the site of the Bob Baker auto dealership and is bounded to the north by Camino de la Reina, the east by Camino del Arroyo, the south by Camino del Rio North, and the west by the Witt Lincoln car dealership.
Dinerstein chose TCA Architects to design the project, which will have 291 apartment homes, 14 live-work units and two stand-alone buildings with 9,000 square feet of retail space. TCA is well-known throughout California for creating high-density, master-planned communities, including two San Diego projects in Clairemont Mesa: Ariva Apartments, a 253-unit community completed in 2014; and Domain Apartment, an ultra-modern, high-density community designed to attract millennials.
Irwin Yau, principal and studio director at TCA’s Irvine office, spoke exclusively to Mission Valley News about the Millennium Mission Valley project that’s due for completion by fall 2017.
“The main goal of the project was to create a new mixed-use community that adds to and supports the existing surrounding area. We strove to design a luxury apartment community that residents would be excited to live in at a great location and with top-notch amenity spaces,” Yau said.
“The amount of square footage and variation of amenity spaces is generally more than what we normally see in this project type. There are three different courtyards, a very large pool, and a 4,000-square-foot public plaza that is available to the public as well as residents. Along with that, there is 10,000 square feet of resident amenity space, which includes a yoga room, fitness center, roof decks, lounge spaces, clubroom, business center, aqua lounge and a dedicated kids’ play area.”
The architectural style will be noticeably different from other residential developments along Camino de la Reina.
“I would describe the architecture as California Contemporary,” Yau said. “We are using a combination of natural materials and bold accent colors to give the project vibrancy and appeal.
“We have a design process for every project in which we explore and examine the existing context and area. With each side of the project having different neighbors, each side had to respond with the look and scale around it. For example, the retail areas are on a lower scale so the building steps down to one story to flow with the neighboring properties. Again, with the side against the freeway, we used bolder architectural statements that respond to how the building will be seen and reacted to from the freeway. This creates a more interesting building with multiple faces and varying articulation,” he said.
The project is being marketed as a “modern pedestrian village” in an area of Mission Valley where the traffic crawls during rush hours, weekends and the holiday shopping season. But one block east of the project — on the other side of the Courtesy Chevrolet dealership — is the sprawling Westfield Mission Valley shopping center that is split in two by Mission Center Road. Within easy walking distance are Trader Joe’s, King’s Fish House, Fuddruckers, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, Gordon Biersch, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Golfsmith, DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, Marshall’s, Ultra Beauty and West Elm. However, the bulk of the dining, drinking and shopping is on the east side of Mission Center Road.
For future residents who would prefer to take public transportation, the No. 6 bus stops along Camino de la Reina, including near the intersection with Camino del Arroyo. The No. 6 bus terminates nearby at Fashion Valley Transit Center — and on the other end at 30th Street and University Avenue in trendy North Park.
“The project will provide an on-site shuttle to the trolley station for all its residents — to get people out of their cars and onto public transportation,” Yau said. “I think residents don’t want to drive anymore, so they take alternative methods as much as possible. If they have access to good public transport, they will take it. We are seeing an increase of bike storage and bike-repair amenities because residents will take advantage of them.”
Bikes can be accommodated on all buses and trolleys, giving riders more options to travel.
TCA’s architecture renderings show a mix of building heights and the number of floors in each building. Yau explained the thinking process about this concept.
“The design responds to and respects the surrounding context in terms of scale and heights,” he said.
“We pulled the mass of the building away from Camino de la Reina and stepping down to a single-story retail to respond to the lower-scale buildings on the street. On the freeway edge, we created a dynamic elevation while respecting sight lines to the Witt Lincoln dealership by also stepping the building down as it got closer to the dealership. Along Camino del Arroyo, we felt stoops and a townhome were appropriate for the quieter, pedestrian nature of the street.”
Along Camino de la Reina will be two single-story retail buildings in keeping with the theme of that immediate area. However, it is not known what type of businesses that the developer is hoping to attract.
“Dinerstein is looking for neighborhood-serving uses that are currently missing in Mission Valley. They will begin marketing the space mid-2016 and will have a better idea on possible businesses at that time,” Yau said.
Another interesting aspect of the project will be 14 live-work units, something not typically found in Mission Valley. These units will have storefronts, retail awnings, and an open ground floor plan with easy access to the public sidewalks. A mix of punched openings and cantilevered balconies further animate the elevations, providing optimal relief and texture to the design, according to marketing materials.
“We envision having startups, satellite offices and local businesses as possible tenants in the shopkeeper units,” Yau said. “Most of the units are 1,350 square feet with over 500 square feet dedicated to the ‘shop’ portion. We are really excited about the opportunity these units will provide to individuals and businesses either currently located in Mission Valley or looking to relocate.”
Integrating a dense apartment community into an area that has car dealerships on the east and west sides posed an interesting challenge to TCA. Yau again shared the thinking process.
“The project works to create an urban node of retail and residential uses by creating spaces interior to the site where residents and public can mix in the public spaces fronting Camino de la Reina, but the residents have gathering areas in the courtyards that are more internal and private,” he said. “The townhome and shopkeeper units along Camino del Arroyo work to maintain a lively pedestrian feel, and the handful of units facing the Witt Lincoln car dealership are pulled 40 feet away from the property line, which will also have a lush landscape buffer.”
Yau said the community will have a lot of amenities, but was unsure how much it will cost to live there.
“The rents will be determined by the market at the time they open, which is estimated to be mid-2017,” he said.
Amenities include a yoga room, fitness center, a large pool, roof decks, lounge spaces, clubroom, business center, aqua lounge and a dedicated kids’ play area. Also, there are three different courtyards for residents, and a public plaza, he said.
Some of the amenities will be shared with the public, Yau said.
“There is a public plaza, which is 4,000 square feet, at the center of the project in between the retail spaces. … Our public plaza is central to the site plan, and offers a direct connection to the public sidewalk,” he said.
Green space will be a premium on the 5.37-acre property.
“Approximately 25,000 square feet of residential green space with uses such as a ‘swim and play’ courtyard with pool and spa, an ‘entertainment’ courtyard with barbecues, a firepit and seating areas, and two ‘relaxation’ courtyards with passive seating and gathering areas. The approximately 4,000-square-foot public plaza is centrally located to the site, fronting Camino de la Reina, and is a landscape and hardscaped space for public gathering,” Yau said.
As with many properties in Mission Valley near the San Diego River, Millennium Mission Valley is within the flood zone.
“The entire site falls within the FEMA 100-year flood zone,” Yau said. “The entirety of the site is being raised above the existing grade so that it is 1 foot above the 100-year flood zone.”
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at KenSanDiego, Instagram account at KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.