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Urbana Chula Vista Changing the Face of City

Downtown Chula Vista is getting a new look with a $45 million housing development that has 135 apartments.

Urbana Chula Vista at 393 H St. is the first of several dense housing projects planned for western Chula Vista by MountainWest Real Estate.

“Urbana was designed to be truly the first urban residential project in western Chula Vista,” said Jim Pieri, founder and CEO of MountainWest Real Estate.

The 120,000 square-foot project represents “an evolution of the western Chula Vista core development,” Pieri said.

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Urbana just started leasing, and once 90 apartments are leased, MountainWest will break ground for a similar housing project nearby – Urbana 2.0 – with 200 apartments, Pieri said.

More to Come

“We have at least three new projects on the drawing board that are going to take it to another level,” Pieri said. “It’s a lot of fun to see this city maturing to this level.”

Apartments in Urbana range from 550 square feet to 1,182 square feet, according to Dan Rosenberg, property leasing manager with MountainWest.

The apartments have wood plank vinyl flooring, kitchen island waterfalls, stainless steel appliances, washer and dryers, quartz counter tops, high speed internet, tile backsplashes and vaulted ceilings, Rosenberg said.

Monthly rents range from $1,800 to $4,200, Pieri said.

Amenities include a gym, dog area, lounge, indoor-outdoor clubhouse with heaters and lounge seating, a sky deck with barbecues and a big screen television, and a podium lounge with a waterfall, fire pits and barbecues, Rosenberg said.

City Encouragement

Deputy City Manager Kelly Broughton said Urbana Chula Vista is the kind of project the city is trying to encourage downtown.

Most of the new development has been east of Interstate 805.

The city needs more “boots on the street” in its older western core to attract new business and help existing businesses thrive, Broughton said.

Urbana is an example of “a smart growth concept,” Broughton said.

“It’s along one of our busiest transit corridors that goes down 3rd Avenue and connects to the trolley,” Broughton said.

Pieri said he bought the Urbana Chula Vista site about 20 years ago.

In planning what to build, “We went through several iterations, “ Pieri said. Initially, Pieri said he wanted to build a high-rise condo project, but community groups opposed the plan.

“They thought it was just too big,” Pieri said.

He also considered turning the property into a medical campus, but scrapped that too.

A Modern Style

“Eventually, Urbana was born. Everybody fell in love with it,”Pieri said. “The response has been pretty amazing.”

As of early September, 45 apartments had been leased.

Urbana Chula Vista came to market just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Pieri said it was rough going at first.

“After we got through the first 30 days, people started responding to our media and seeing the units,” Pieri said, adding that downtown Chula Vista has the live-work atmosphere many want.

“We’re almost dead center between Interstate 5 and 805. We’ve got the buses, we’ve got the trolley – all of those things that are so beneficial to today’s lifestyle,” Pieri said.

Urbana Chula Vista has been nominated for an award in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions review of new construction projects in San Diego County for 2019.

Orchids go to projects considered exceptional and onions to those that missed the mark. The awards and pans will be presented in October.

Urban was nominated for having “a modern style that would look at home in some of the more trendy San Diego neighborhoods, but still fits in with downtown Chula Vista.”

“Chula Vista is rife with new buildings that look like bland, cookie-cutter, cheap afterthoughts,” according to the nomination. “Urbana is larger and taller than most buildings in the area, but no so big that it feels out of place. The façade is modern and almost reminiscent of a collection of factory buildings. This may sound strange for a new apartment building but it works well in breaking up its large mass.” 

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