Mixed-use projects might have an edge

‘Walkable lifestyle’ becoming more popular, analysts say

By Roger Showley Union-Tribune Staff Writer

With construction locally mostly ground to a halt, two projects in North County, plus others planned elsewhere, may point to the future of development in post-recession San Diego. Both mix housing and retail and harken back to a time when people lived where they worked, shopped on foot and didn’t have to rely on a car to complete the smallest of errands.

As construction picks up in the next few years, some analysts think this “mixed-use development” will gain in popularity, particularly among local niche builders that acquire overlooked infill sites.

The two latest examples are MarketWalk, an $8 million project with 12 condominiums and 11,000 square feet of retail space, which was just completed in the town center of the San Elijo Hills community in San Marcos; and Pacific Station, a $48 million development in downtown Encinitas, due for completion next spring with 47 condos and 47,000 square feet of retail space.

Downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods have seen many such examples, and residents proclaim the benefits of a walkable lifestyle. But in suburbia, there have been fewer examples, as developers divided the land into single-purpose uses — big-box retail here, sprawling housing tracts there, and office and industrial parks planted at every other freeway off-ramp.

“There’s a stronger market for mixed-use living,” said Mary Lydon, executive director of the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute. “People are tired of driving each way to work, and if they can live and work and shop in an area that’s close to their home, it adds a great deal of quality to their life.” Hale Richardson at HomeFed Corp. said the San Elijo Hills project was modeled after pre-World War II neighborhoods where shopping was convenient to residents and some people lived above the store.

“We realized a lot of towns shared this mixed-use concept,” Richardson said. “We felt we could mimic that within the town center.” READ MORE VIA SD Union Tribune Mixed-use projects might have an edge.

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