By mid-2014, the first buildings should be sprouting in The Corky McMillin Cos.’ long discussed Millenia mixed-use development in eastern Chula Vista, expected to include up to 3,000 residential units as it’s built out over the next 20 years.

McMillin Cos. partnered in 2011 with investor Stratford Land of Dallas to move the project forward after nearly a decade of planning. As master developer, McMillin envisions a finished product resembling an urban village along the lines of University Towne Center, with commercial amenities within walking distance of homes and offices, though without vehicle-strewn thoroughfares running through the middle of it.

With office, retail and hotel elements in future phases, the project is also seen by the city of Chula Vista as a key piece of plans to move the city beyond a bedroom community, bringing in job-creating businesses to employ a residential base that has been among the fastest growing in the nation.

“The housing market is improving in South County, and the housing construction financing climate overall has been thawing,” said Todd Galarneau, senior vice president with San Diego-

based McMillin Cos., discussing the project’s recent momentum.

A formal groundbreaking ceremony is planned by month’s end, and Galarneau noted that grading equipment is already in motion on the 210-acre site.

The first project to be completed will be a 270-unit apartment complex being developed on 10 acres by Fairfield Residential Co. LLC of San Diego.

Work on the apartments is expected to begin in early 2014, with the first units to be completed by year’s end or early 2015. By mid-2014, McMillin Cos. plans to begin work on its own 215-unit condo development, called Genesis, on a nearby parcel.

Genesis will be targeted to young, entry-level homebuyers, with unit prices starting in the high $200,000s.

“It’s generally the kind of product that hasn’t been offered that much in the South County area,” Galarneau said.

Millenia at completion would represent an investment of about $4 billion by McMillin and other on-site residential and commercial developers.

Retail Ready to Follow Rooftops

Once the first apartments and condos have been occupied, Sudberry Properties of San Diego will be completing a new gateway retail center to serve the development, with talks underway with several potential tenants, Galarneau said.

And after the first 30 acres of residential development are built, the next phase would likely include office and hotel elements, for which McMillin in talks with several development companies. Galarneau said the first hotel would likely be a limited-service property to serve local businesses and residents, and the office developer will be scouting for companies looking to locate in a low- to mid-rise headquarters campus setting.