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Friday, Dec 9, 2022
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Millenia Development Is Fulfilling Some Big Goals

Millenia — a Chula Vista development so big that it could be its own small city — is about two-thirds finished with construction already underway on the rest of it on the east side of Chula Vista.

When finished, Millenia is projected to have a population of up to 10,000, said Guy Asaro, president of Meridian Development, which is overseeing the development of the 210-acre site owned by Stratford Land based in Dallas.

“It is its own little city. We should have a mayor but we don’t,” Asaro said.

So far, about $670 million of projects have been finished with construction starting on an additional $285 million of projects, including what new developments in South County have long lacked — a strong employment base.

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Projects that have been completed or are nearing completion include the 138,000 square-foot Millenia Commons and Millenia Place shopping and dining centers by Sudberry Properties, an Ayres Hotel, and Alexan Millenia, a mixed-use project by Trammell Crow Residential that includes 309 apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Employment Base

The employment base in Millenia would initially come in part through two four-story office buildings Chesnut Properties plans to build, with a groundbreaking set for the first quarter of 2020 and a goal of finishing by May 2021.

Named Think by CEO Lee Chesnut, the two four-story buildings totaling 325,000 square feet would be the first phase of Millenia Office.

They would include a 1,300-space parking garage and a 7,000 square-foot fitness center and café complex.

“This will be high-performance corporate headquarters and high-tech space, all LEED and WELL-Building certified, designed as a breeding ground for innovation and collaboration among academia, life science, research and technology,” Chesnut said.

Development of additional office space in Millenia will depend on how well Think is received, Asaro said.

“We’ll have to see how the market responds. How the market responds to this first phase will really determine what the second and third phase will look like,” Asaro said. “We have an additional 19 acres of office land that from an entitlement perspective, we’re allowed to have 3 million square feet of office. Literally, the sky is the limit.”

As originally outlined by Chesnut, Think would be followed by Discover, a 10-story 400,000 square-foot building that could be expanded to 700,000 square feet.

The final phase as envisioned by Chesnut would be a four-building complex of 700,000 square feet that could be expanded to 1 million square feet.

Asaro said full development of the office portion of Millenia “will linger or go beyond the residential,” which he said could be finished in six years if the economy stays strong. Attracting new businesses to South County has been a challenge, but Asaro figures that’s changing as companies go where people live rather than locating in a central areas and expecting workers to commute.

“Employers are looking to move operations to where their human capital is,” Asaro said. “Chula Vista has an abundance of highly educated and highly skilled workers.”

Construction is about to start on The Mix, which as its name suggests, is a mixed use portion of Millenia design as the community’s main street.

‘Destination Neighborhood’

“We’re envisioning a destination neighborhood filled with breweries, tasting rooms, boutique restaurants, wellness studios, a makers’ plaza for craftsmen and artisans, a potential shared office space and community-services as well as additional office space,” Asaro said.

Plans also call for 55,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet of retail/commercial space in The Mix.

Lennar Corp. has two residential projects planned for The Mix, including a neighborhood of 92 townhomes it’s calling The Vibe.

The Mix also will include a two-acre civic plaza park and construction of two other urban parks, Orion and Strata are underway.

Designed by MIG Inc. Orion Park, at Orion Avenue and Strata Street, will include a playground, dog section, shaded picnic tables and open plazas.

Strata Park designed by Spurlock Landscape Architects will have shade gardens, picnic tables, a fitness area, student art displays, a play area, a community plaza and restrooms.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for winter for a 3.6 acre park along Millenia Avenue that will include a soccer field, tennis court, basketball court, restrooms, jogging path, picnic areas and playground.

Millennia has been in the works for more than 20 years and the project has evolved over time.

“We’ve been at this project a long time. We’ve been working on this project since it hit the planning board in 2004. A lot has changed in the marketplace. A lot has changed in the demographics. The retail space has changed a tremendous amount,” Asaro said. “It has to change along with the dynamics of the market.”

Retail Strategy

Retailers are limiting or reducing the amount of space they want.

As a developer, “You have to be more strategic and more selective in how you implement the retail portion,” Asaro said. “We’re going to less of it than we initially thought. It’s going to be of higher quality.”

On the residential side, the shift has been to build more apartments and smaller homes, driven in part by so-called millennials – roughly people between the ages of 23 and 38.

“People are choosing to rent longer than they did before historically,” Asaro said.

When people do buy, they’re looking for smaller homes than prior to the Great Recession.

“Years and years ago, pre-recession, big was in. People wanted square footage. Now they want smartly designed floor plans that live well and square footage is not the driving factor,” Asaro said. “We see consumers like the energy efficiency and sustainability that we’re putting in homes now.”

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