By Ken Williams | Editor
Construction has started on Civita Park in Mission Valley, 14.3 acres of public parkland that will feature a manmade waterfall, a dry creek bed cascading down the hillside, an amphitheater and a large plaza for public gatherings.
Civita Park will be the “Central Park” of the massive Civita development, which is on the north side of Friars Road stretching from Mission Center Road on the east to Interstate 805 on the west.
Hazard Construction Co. began work on Phases I and IV on Aug. 18. This part of the project is expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete and another couple of additional months will be needed so the landscaping can mature, said Marco A. Sessa, senior vice president of Sudberry Properties, and the principal/partner in charge of all aspects of the development process for the massive Civita mixed-use community.
“The waterfall is starting to take shape,” Sessa said as he emailed an aerial photograph to Mission Valley News. The photo, taken about two weeks ago [it’s published in this edition], shows the waterfall and a meandering bioswale that will eventually become part of the dry creek bed that will form the western boundary of Civita Park.
Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water, and filled with vegetation, compost and/or riprap, according to Wikipedia.
“The natural-looking streambed will function as a biofiltration system that will clean stormwater runoff from parts of Civita and Serra Mesa before it is fed into the San Diego River and out to sea,” Mark K. Radelow, vice president/senior project manager at Sudberry Properties, said in a statement.
A trail will follow the creek from the waterfall to the foot of the park.
The first two phases will complete 10 acres of the 14.3-acre park, and will provide some of its most eagerly awaited amenities. The work on remaining acreage will begin about a year from now, Sessa estimated, and add children’s play areas, a plaza to showcase equipment from the site’s mining past, a picnic grove, interpretive gardens crisscrossed with trails, scenic lookouts and restrooms.
Phase IV, which is north of the waterfall near the summit of Via Alta, will create a dog park along with passive parkland, Sessa said. This park area will be enjoyed by Civita residents as well as pedestrians coming down from Serra Mesa, the community on the ridge overlooking Mission Valley. A pathway will lead south to the main portions of Civita Park.
“Phase I is planned to include a large central plaza that accommodates a variety of active and passive activities. It is also designed with rose gardens, a military tribute with a 100-foot-tall flagpole, an outdoor grassy amphitheater with a dramatic stage design, a recirculating interactive water feature and a game area with chess, ping pong and other activities. The plaza is accented by a number of vine-covered shaded trellis areas,” Radelow said.
Other features will be a community garden, two basketball half courts and a large field for casual sports.
The multi-level park was designed by Schmidt Design Group, which is known for creating sustainable public spaces and parks. Sessa said the idea was to create active and passive uses for the park, such as a space to meditate or a place to play ball.
Planning for Civita Park has taken years. Sudberry worked with the city of San Diego’s Parks & Recreation, Public Works and Engineering departments to iron out the details. Public meetings provided hundreds of comments on what Mission Valley residents wanted in their park.
“Our design for Civita Park was inspired by the feedback we received from the community, the rich history of the site [as a former quarry], the watershed, as well as the dramatic and unique attributes of the site,” Glen Schmidt, president of Schmidt Design Group, said in a statement.
The public park, which will be operated by the Civita Maintenance Assessment District, is located at the intersection of Civita Boulevard and Russell Parkway. Trails throughout the Civita development, which is only partially developed, will all lead to the large park.
“Civita Park is the unifying element of Civita,” Radelow said. “It will serve as the heart of the community and the main gathering spot.”
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952.