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Building Complex Projects Takes Unconventional Wisdom

BY JAIMY LEE

Designers and developers of mixed-use projects with various retail, residential and office components can get creative with overcoming challenges unique to blended construction.

Vertical and horizontal mixed-use projects can face community roadblocks, depending on the specific community developers plan to build in, said Colton Sudberry, senior vice president for San Diego-based Sudberry Properties Inc.

In the primarily residential Scripps Ranch community, a proposed mixed-use project was modified to contain retail and office space as opposed to residential units, because of community feedback during the planning stage, Sudberry said. Residents objected to residential units in that exact location of the community.

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“There’s a lot of factors,” he said. “It’s the community, the city, the political climate.”


Parking Issues

And the continual test of the architect when designing a mixed-use project is: Where to put the parking lot?

Norman Barrett, senior project architect for Carmel Valley-based Smith Consulting Architects, said incorporating parking in horizontal projects is easier because more land is included.

“Some cities are taking this risk,” Barrett said. “So it’s about how creative you can get with where that parking lot goes.”

Smith Consulting Architects was thinking outside the box when it took on a mixed-use project called the Gerald Ford Business Park in Coachella Valley’s Palm Desert last year.

The horizontal mixed-use project will feature retail in the front, an office building in the back, with an eye toward catering to the new University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert campus across the street. The project will contain more than 99,000 square feet of retail and office space on Gerald Ford Drive.

Unlike the older trend of parking lots planned between the street and the project, one goal of the Gerald Ford project is to be pedestrian-friendly. The designers envision a development where students, faculty, administrators and visitors can walk across the street for a cup of coffee, lunch or the like. The project is slated for completion in six to eight months.

“We want to attract students and teachers to draw in business,” Barrett said.


New Mixed-Use Project

At another project in Mission Valley, a mixed-use development designed by Sudberry Properties features residential, retail and office space in the same structure.

The Rio Vista West project is supported by retail units, 900 town houses, a 2-acre park and more than 160,000 square feet of office space, according to the Sudberry’s Web site.

While Rio Vista West is new, the redevelopment of older shopping centers with new ideas is common in more established areas of San Diego County.

Barrett said he knows of two shopping centers in Oceanside , including one built in the early ’80s and one in 1985 , that Smith Consulting Architects has been hired to update. Barrett declined to release the names of the projects, though, because the updates are still under way. Sometimes, it’s simply a paint job, while other projects can require more complex construction, he said.


Jaimy Lee is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

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