Linda Vista residents who overlook the 27-hole Riverwalk Golf Course in west Mission Valley got a look last week at the first conceptual drafts of the project being planned on the 200 acres of land on the south side of Friars Road.
With the plan came the realization that the green-space views from up the hill will be lost to the city's appetite for new housing — and the sobering realization that what little say they have on the project would occur in polite forums like this.
“Many of us [now] have views of the golf course,” said one attendee. “All we’ll see [in the future] is cars and rooftop air-conditioning units.” Most of the dozen or so people at the February 14 evening meeting are active in the Linda Vista Planning Group — so the presentation by Bhavesh Parikh was met with more cautious interest than with resistance. (Parikh is a development director at Hines San Diego, an international development and real estate management company.) The project is in the Mission Valley Planning Group's purview and the meeting was held as a courtesy to the up-hill neighbors.
Last month, Hines and Levi Cushman (which owns the land) announced their partnership to develop the golf course into a valley village. Hines has indicated they’re proposing to build about 100,000 square feet of retail space and up to 1 million square feet of office space. As of now, the company is looking to site 4000 residential units on the north side of the 200-acre plot of land.
“I am 100 percent sure the project will change, as we are so early in the process,” Parikh said. The city surprised Hines by asking the developers to consider building more than that, Parikh said. “We had a certain number of units and the city said, ‘That’s not enough.’ Typically, we get, ‘That’s too much,” he said, noting it was the first time he’d heard the city ask for more housing. “The city, with its new Climate Action Plan, is really pushing for intensity and density along the trolley.”
The plan includes building a new trolley stop in the development. The early conceptual renderings show the developers are thinking about leaving the wide swath of land along the river as green space. The land immediately next to the river is considered floodway — land that will flood if the river rises — and flood plain. The project includes a 75-acre park and the north side, along Friars, will be broken into seven districts, each meant to have a different character.
“Nobody’s looking to create a cookie-cutter community,” Parikh said. “We want to create differentiated communities with individual character.” Mary Shepard, who lives in Linda Vista, was pleased to hear that. “We are horrified by the idea of taking Civita [a large development about two miles east] and dropping it into Mission Valley,” she said.
The enormous project will be built in phases, possibly starting at their district 1, where Hines hopes to build 1300 condos and apartments. There will be an environmental review as the master plan becomes more specific, but those things may be years away — Parikh joked that the project will see him to retirement.
Roads will need to be built and extended — with extensions for Via Las Cumbres and Gaines Street being considered at the west end. The project has to start with infrastructure ranging from roads and water lines to safe ways for residents to get onto Friars Road, Parikh said.
Most of the residents have long known the golf course would become a massive housing project — the last attempt failed.
After the meeting, Linda Vista Planning Group member Felicity Senoski said, “Bhavesh [Parikh] was very responsive and he has put a lot of energy into meeting with us. It’s a really grassroots effort to figure out what they intend to do and how we fit into that plan.”