A massive $3 billion project that will reshape a large swath of the western portion of Mission Valley is starting construction.
When completed, the Riverwalk project will include a new trolley stop and town square, bike and walking paths, 4,300 homes, 152,000 square feet of retail space, one million square feet of offices, and 100 acres of parks including a 60-acre regional park.
Ultimately covering 200 acres including the Riverwalk Golf Club on Fashion Valley Road, the Riverwalk project by Houston-based Hines will be built in phases, starting with 930 rental apartments in five buildings along Friars Road and 75,000 square feet of retail space surrounding a central green.
The apartments will be a mix of flats and townhomes. The retail center will be anchored by a grocery store and will include restaurants, bars and fitness studios.
Along with the new construction, Hines also will restore the portion of the San Diego River that runs through the development.
Hines officials declined to provide precise numbers but Managing Director Eric Hepfer said the first phase of the project would cost “more than half a billion dollars” and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.
The entire 200-acre project will likely take 15 years to complete, Hepfer said.
Riverwalk will be “much more attractive and really unlike anything else that’s been delivered in San Diego in a long time,” Hepfer said.
“We spent the last two years researching the very best mixed-use projects in the whole country,” Hepfer said, adding that “what we came up with is what we think is the very best mixed use project that we could deliver in San Diego.”
“It’s hard to overstate how much of a divergence this project will be from what’s been typical for Mission Valley and really most of San Diego,” said Hines Director Peter Shearer.
“Riverwalk will feature a village square flaked by shops and restaurants on all sides,” Shearer added. “Our focus has always been to make a place safe enough for families with small kids, but with access and parking as convenient as traditional shopping centers.”
Building a retail center at the start of the project is a departure from the usual practice in which developers build housing followed by retail.
Hepfer said Hines is including retail in the initial construction to give the project a sense of place from the outset.
Affordable Housing Included
Phase One also will include sidewalk and bike lane improvements along a widened Friars Road, added traffic signals and installation of a landscaped median.
To make way for the first phase of Riverwalk, a nine-hole golf course has been closed but the 18-hole course will remain open for the next five to seven years, Hepfer said.
Once the first phase is finished, Hines will develop an affordable housing project at Riverwalk with at least 95 apartments in partnership with Wakeland Housing and Development Corp. based in downtown San Diego.
“It’s going to look and feel like the market rate units and it will be right in the middle of everything,” Hepfer said. “We’re in design right now.”
Likely tenants of the market rate apartments will be “quite a few younger working professionals drawn to the site because of the onsite amenities,” Hepfer said.
Riverwalk is being developed by Hines in partnership with the Levi-Cushman family, which owns the land. The family chose Hines as the developer in 2015, and the project was unanimously approved by the San Diego City Council in 2017.
Hepfer said Riverwalk is “a flagship project” for Hines.
“It’s not every day that you get to develop a project of this scale,” Hepfer said. “San Diego is a city of neighborhoods and we have the opportunity to create an entirely new neighborhood. That’s what we’re most excited to deliver.”
Chairman and Co-CEO: Jeffrey C. Hines
Co-CEO: Laura Hines-Pierce
Business: Real estate development, management and investment
Social impact: Hines directly supports Amnesty International, the National Urban League, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the Equal Justice Initiative. Employees get one paid day each year to volunteer for a charity of their choice
Notable: Hines has 198 developments underway worldwide and has developed, redeveloped or acquired 1,530 properties.