Seventy years ago Civitia was a sand and gravel quarry in the heart of the Mission Valley. The original owners, Franklin and Alta Grant, had been seeking oil, but instead provided much of the aggregate for San Diego’s buildings, roads and highways. Now their grandchildren have teamed up with Sudberry Properties to transform the 230 acre parcel into a walkable village that a recent New York Times article called “a perfect model for the future growth of the region.”

The $2 billion project embraces San Diego’s “City of Villages” planning concept, which calls for everything to be within walking distance or accessible by mass transit. A network of new homes apartments, restaurants and offices is woven into a neighborhood that was designed for easy walking and bicycle traffic. Sudberry Properties is building a multimillion-dollar pedestrian bridge across Friars Road to access Rio Vista Shopping Center and the Rio Vista Station of San Diego’s light rail trolley. It is only three miles to the downtown area.

The village plan calls for 60 acres of parks and open space, 4,780 residential homes and apartments in numerous configurations, approximately 480,000 square feet for a lifestyle retail center and 420,000 square feet for an office/business campus.

Civitia also has a car share program and has six electric vehicle charging stations. Four of these are designated for Car2Go, which has agreed to keep vehicles on property.

Circa 37 apartment project, San Diego, Sudberry Properties. Photographer- David Harrison.
Circa 37 apartment project, San Diego, Sudberry Properties. Photographer- David Harrison.

“We’re collaborating with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to make Civita a ‘smart energy community,’ and incorporate an array of innovative technologies, such as energy generation by using fuel cells, solar arrays, and electric vehicle charging stations,” said Marco Sessa, senior vice president of Sudberry Properties.

Some of these features include:

  • Smart grid technologies may allow portions of Civita to operate independently of the grid and keep electricity flowing to critical parts of the community during outages.
  • street lights that use  light-emitting diode (LED) technology.  A recent article reported that such LED street lights can deliver electricity savings of up to 85 percent over incumbent technologies.  These fixtures are also dark sky friendly, eliminating stray light and reducing overall light pollution.

“Civita will use 50 percent less water per person than traditional suburban developments,” said Sessa, noting that it will be considerably more water efficient than required by code thanks to its compact development and water-saving innovations.”

The community’s high efficiency irrigation system relies on computerized weather-based control systems to minimize water use and Civita will be augmenting its water supply with reclaimed water.  The landscaping design also calls for clustering plants according to water usage.

“Every aspect of the community, is being studied from a sustainability point of view,” said Sessa.  “The majority of storm water runoff from residential areas in Civita and parts of Serra Mesa will be directed to a unique bioswale system in Civita’s central park.  The bioswale, which has the appearance of a natural streambed, will remove silt and pollution from the runoff through natural biofiltration.”

Homes and commercial buildings at Civita are all being designed with an emphasis on energy-conservation and sustainability.  Homebuilders must specify “Energy Star” appliances and exceed California’s current and very stringent Title 24 energy requirements by 15 percent.

Sudberry gave $100,000 to San Diego Park Foundation during (l to r) Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of the San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF). 2 Sam Duran, SDRPF Board; 3 Jim Peugh, SDRPF Board 4 former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders 5 Rob Hutsel, Executive Director SDRPF
Sudberry giving $100,000 to San Diego Park Foundation during (l to r) 1. Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of the San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF); 2. Sam Duran, SDRPF Board; 3. Jim Peugh, SDRPF Board; 4. former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; 5. Rob Hutsel, Executive Director SDRPF; 6. Tom Sudberry, Chairman of the Board, Sudberry Properties.

Circa 37, the first of several eco-friendly apartment buildings that the Sudberry Properties are building, opened last April. Sudberry celebrated the grand opening by donating $100,000 to the San Diego River Park Foundation. Almost all of the 306 units have now been leased.

“Circa 37 set the standard for luxury apartment living in San Diego and picked up top awards for architectural design and landscape design from the Building Industry Association of San Diego,” said Sessa.

Some of the eco features include extensive use of energy-efficient lighting, windows and HVAC systems, a 145 kW solar array that powers 80 percent of the common area electricity consumption, and “cool roofs” that minimize heat transfer.

Construction has already started on West Park, which was “designed to top Circa 37, especially its extensive indoor and outdoor recreational amenities.” It will have three uniquely landscaped pool areas, a dog washing station and bicycle repair facility and “a nearly 10,000-square-foot resident gym and recreation area, complete with the latest cardio and strength-training equipment, group exercise space and spin room, free weights, climbing wall, lounge and juice bar.”
Circa 37 - Solar panels
Circa 37 – Solar panels

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