Chula Vista Mall Owner Considers Building Condos on Parking Lot

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Joni Mitchell may have to rewrite her song "Big Yellow Taxi."

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Well now in the city of Chula Vista, someone may want to take that parking lot at the Otay Ranch Town Center and build 904 condominiums and apartments.

“It’s really about creating what’s known as Otay Ranch Town Center and really evolving it further into a town center,” said Ted Lohman.

Lohman is the Senior Director of Development for Brookfield Properties, which owns the shopping center in Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch community. His company asked the Chula Vista City Council for permission to develop a plan that could include expanding the town center and adding the homes.

“Right now, we’re thinking it’s going to be residential uses built in the existing parking lots,” said Lohman, although no plans or designs have been created yet.

“Everyone is very scared about more density,” said Justino Martinez.

The long-time Chula Vista resident was not excited about adding hundreds of homes on a single piece of land. He said the city, which has the fewest police per capita in San Diego County, doesn’t have the infrastructure.

“We don’t have any police and one gas station, and they want to put 900 more condos?” Martinez asked while pointing to the only gas station on the long Olympic Parkway.

When pressed about the need for affordable housing, Martinez argued the development would not be about making housing easier to find.

“Listen folks: We cannot believe our city council when they tell us this is about affordable housing,” he sighed. “This is all about money and greed, unfortunately.”

Lohman disagreed. He argued the 904 living units focused on smart growth and would take advantage of the adjacent Bus Rapid Transit system.

“It’s going to boost up the existing operations of the center; it’s going to promote use of the transit; it’s going to promote walkability; It should get cars off of the road, not bring more cars on the road,” said Lohman.

Nevertheless, hundreds of public comments against granting Brookfield permission to develop the plan were posted on the city of Chula Vista’s website before Tuesday’s city council meeting.

During the meeting, the council voted to reschedule discussing the project for an unspecified date.

“It’s not the smart way to grow this part of the city. It’s just too dense,” said Martinez.

Lohman said Brookfield would solicit public input and feedback as it developed its plan. If a plan is approved, he said construction could begin as early as 2023.

The song could be rewritten, “They paved paradise and added 900 condos.”

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