Breaking ground on a ground-breaking project

Wed October 30, 2013 1:55pm

The SANDAG Smart Growth Urban Center is planned for 3,000 multi-family residences and 3.5 million sq. ft. of office, retail, hospitality and mixed-use, amid numerous squares, ­promenades and urban-style parks
McMillin Communities, which has built more than 30,000 residences, 16 master-planned communities and Liberty Station, returned to its South County roots today to launch its most ambitious project ever:  the multi-billion-dollar Millenia urban center, located just east of SR125 at Birch Road.  The on-site groundbreaking for the 210-acre community attracted hundreds of business leaders and elected officials.
Millenia, which will be equivalent to about 80 city blocks, is fully entitled with plans for 3,000 multi-family residences, 2 million square feet of Class A office space on 30 acres, 1.5 million square feet of retail, hospitality, civic and mixed-use projects, six themed urban parks and a variety of tree-lined promenades, casual gathering places, bikeways, and plazas.  Population will be approximately 8,500 when complete in about 20 years.  It has been designated a Smart Growth Urban Center by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
“We envision Millenia becoming the future City Center of South County and the epicenter of the emerging San Diego/Tijuana mega region,” said Scott McMillin, chairman of The Corky McMillin Companies.  “It is ideally located near the U.S. Olympic Training Center, only four miles from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and the planned cross-border terminal, and just 20 miles from Downtown San Diego and Lindberg Field,” he said.
“This project will play a key role for Chula Vista’s future University Innovation District that will be developed adjacent to Millenia,” said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox.  “Combined, Millenia and the University Innovation District will become a strong economic engine, offering higher education, high paying jobs and quality housing for Chula Vistans and residents throughout the South Bay,” she added.
“The design of Millenia represents the culmination of what we’ve learned as a company for over half a century,” said Mark McMillin, company president and CEO, noting that planning for Millenia, which is the urban center of the 22,899-acre Otay Ranch Master Plan, has spanned about 15 years. 
“We have spent thousands of hours visiting and researching
the most vibrant, livable, sustainable and economically successful urban town centers in the country,” said McMillin. “Inspiration for Millenia comes from as far as Portland’s eclectic Pearl District to Mockingbird Station in Dallas to Reston, Virginia.  We learned that great urban places have to be responsive to the community, flexible, and design-sensitive with an amalgamation of daytime office workers and residents.  That’s the way to create a lively vibe and maintain economic viability.”
The Millenia planning team, which was headed up by McMillin’s Todd Galarneau, senior vice president of Land Development, included RTKL, a global architecture and design practice headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Cinti Land Planning, now of Rosarito, Mexico, Project Design Consultants (PDC) of San Diego for civil engineering, and Wallace, Roberts & Todd, for park design.  Stratford Land of Dallas, Texas, is a financial partner.
“The magic of this plan is the synergy of land uses, which will fundamentally change how the community interacts,” said Galarneau. “Every decision we made was motivated by our desire to make Millenia the kind of place that is vibrant and worthy of affection.  Millenia will have a strong civic presence with landmark architecture and plenty of employment opportunities.  Every resident will live within a two-and-a-half-minute walk to a visually interesting urban-style park.  Homes, retailers, offices and entertainment venues will be connected via promenades, squares, bikeways, walkways and a very active Main Street,” Galarneau said.
Grading on about 100 acres of the property has commenced.  Construction is anticipated to start within 12 months in a variety of apartments, townhomes and condominiums, retailers, parks and a hotel, including:
Approximately 270 apartments by Fairfield Residential;
Three for-sale residential neighborhoods with a total of 214 attached urban-style residences by McMillin Communities, including two-story townhomes, three-story triplexes, and two-story triplexes.  The nine floor plans, designed by Woodley Architecture, will include design innovations such as penthouses with private elevators, multi-generational living options, dual master suites, home automation, photovoltaic solar systems and indoor/outdoor living with balconies, patios and rear yards.  The common areas will feature outdoor dining areas, nestled gathering spaces, stylish playgrounds, a resort-style pool area and appealing tree-sheltered paseos.  Construction is scheduled to start in mid 2014, with sales starting later that year;
South County’s first major hotel with 120 guestrooms; and
Two of the six urban parks planned.
Additional projects planned in the first phase include a lifestyle retail center to be developed by Sudberry Properties and several Class A office buildings.
Sustainability is an integral part of Millenia, which has ambitious plans for water conservation, air quality and energy conservation, according to Galarneau. Millenia played an integral role as part of an energy modeling initiative conducted by the National Energy Center for Sustainable Communities and the City of Chula Vista, among others.  This effort identified energy conserving technologies that can be integrated into the infrastructure and buildings of Millenia. The National Center for Sustainable Communities concluded that the design of Millenia will result in residents traveling 5.5 million fewer miles per year.
 Millenia was one of 236 projects in eight countries participating in the pilot program for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) program.  It is also one of only 60 projects (and the only one south of Los Angeles) included in the select LEED-ND focus group.
The Corky McMillin Companies started in 1960 as a remodeling and custom-home builder in South San Diego County.  Over more than 50 years, the company has grown into a fully integrated real estate investment, land development and home-building company.  The Corky McMillin Companies is led by Scott McMillin, chairman of the board, and Mark McMillin, president and CEO.
McMillin has created 16 mixed-use master-planned communities; built nearly 30,000 residences; and more than 20 community parks, schools, shopping centers, office buildings and industrial facilities. In 2012 the company was named the “Builder of the Year” by the Building Industry Association of San Diego. In 2005 and 2006, McMillin was named the largest commercial developer in San Diego County by the Daily Transcript and the San Diego Business Journal.  The company’s extensive contribution to South County was recognized when an Otay Ranch school was named Corky McMillin Elementary School.