Watch video of the entire Council meeting
City Council unanimously approved construction of the largest structures in Santee at Wednesday's meeting- two four-story and one five-story building that will make up the 172-unit "Parc One" apartment complex at the RiverView development site in Town Center.
Grading will begin on the $38 million project in March of next year, with construction starting in June, according to Joe Werner, CEO of JMR Real Estate Group, the company constructing the apartments. "Parc One" is scheduled to be completed 14 months after construction begins, late summer of 2014.
A public hearing was held for a Development Review Permit for the apartment project within the RiverView Corporate Office Park in Town Center. Watch the attached video of a virtual tour of the project plans that was presented at the meeting for a better idea of what it will look like.
It will sit adjacent to the future site of San Diego Christian College, and 50 units of the project will be dedicated to student housing. SDCC announced it is planning to construct its own apartments specifically for student housing closer to campus on the RiverView property.
It will sit on the 6.78-acre site nearest to the Trolley Square shopping center, and it fits with the existing high-density urban residential plans for the RiverView site, at 25 dwellings per acre.
The apartments will include 52 one-bedroom, 84 two-bedroom and 36 three-bedroom units, a pool, resident courtyards, children's play area, observation deck, outdoor BBQ, and pedestrian connections to nearby facilities. The project is along the San Diego River and would include the construction of a 12-foot wide paved path along 673 feet of the San Diego River Trail (see diagram of trail connections in photos).
The apartments are geared towards "professionals," with some room for families in the larger units. Pets will be allowed, one cat/dog per unit.
Another feature of the project will be a decorative "Arroyo" pedestrian focused promenade aligned north/south, providing community access from the Trolley Station to the river trail. Public street improvement widening Town Center Parkway from Cuyamaca Street to the entrance of the apartments will also be included.
"When all these projects come together it will be a real asset for Santee," said Councilmember Jack Dale.
"We don't have a building this tall... When it starts framing up, Randy will get some phone calls," he said.
"We've been setting up for years for four and five-story buildings," said Mayor Randy Voepel.
Councilmember Rob McNelis, who works in the real estate field, expressed some dismay at the visuals of the project and worries about its height and looking like a "compound." But the project got his vote.
"It doesn't look like a feel good living place, it looks like something right out of downtown san diego, and we're not downtown San Diego," McNelis said.
"I'm just not happy with the look of the building... This is not what I envisioned in any way shape or form."
The City received at least one complaint about the project being too high and affecting the visual landscape of the city and mountain views of nearby residents. The owners of the Trolley Square shopping center expressed their support for the project, saying it will provide immediate economic impact to the area.
Talk about building a theater on the RiverView property was re-ignited at the meeting. City staff said that they were getting renewed commitment from San Diego County, who owns the land, that a theater site would be made available in the remaining mixed-use portion of the land. That land would be given to the theater operator at a low price, possibly as low as $1, to kick-start the costly construction of the theater.
"We're creating critical mass so that a theater wants to be there," said project consultant Matt Reid.
Councilmembers told developers that they were wary about the idea of the Parc One apartments being a "gated community," which they have tried to avoid in Santee. The developers said that no fence would surround the property, but that a gate for cars would be in operation at night, and that access to the river trails and walkway would be open to the public.
COMMENT: What do you think about the new apartments?