Design Review Board Gets Look at Konyn Dairy Development

Kerry Garza Of Touchstone Makes A Presentation To The Design Review Board Of A Project Planned For The Old Konyn Dairy Property

May 6, 2014

The VC Design Review board Monday got a first look at the rebirth of the Konyn Dairy property as Valley Center Ranch, a 300-unit development that includes a retail shopping center, a project Touchstone Communities envisions having porches looking out in a central park, evoking a “Mayberry RFD” look.

The DRB board has finally met a developer that members might have wished a genie for, a developer who told them enthusiastically, “We really embrace the architectural style that you espouse. We get it! We love this style!” It will be a project that will incorporate some of the existing features of the dairy, such as the silo as well as other buildings that will evoke its former use.

In that spirit, Kerry Garza of Touchstone unveiled preliminary drawings of the development, which Garza bragged will apply “modern principles of careful planning, putting people first, not traffic oriented, not power oriented.”

The property is adjacent to John Belanch’s Orchard Run property, which Garza said his company has been trying to buy and incorporate into its development, apparently egged on by local residents. “We were told we would make a lot of friends if we were to acquire that property,” said Garza. “We have come close to closing on that deal. Our guys are working on a deal.”

He said that he and Touchstone representatives have been talking to local residents for months to find out what elements they want incorporated into the project. While they learned that “the density battle is over,” they were told over and over to respect VC’s rural look, and try to create a project that fits in with VC’s existing community.

“We were also told that the community needs services, that they want a place where they can ‘hang out’ on a Friday or Saturday night and get a meal or a place to walk to and do something,” said Garza.

They were also told “not to build a gated community and block it off and turn our backs on the community,” explained Garza. Instead of building several small parks, they decided on a single central park available for the community to use. “We want to build a place where you can have social gatherings, which will be safer because it will be used by more people. A park with a civic lawn with a stage where you can have theater, summer gatherings, summer concerts while kids are playing and people are having barbecues,” he said.

The project will also have a private recreational center with a pool.

The northern part of the property would have densities of about 7.3 units per acre, while the property south of Moosa Creek, seasonal waterway that is from 30-40 feet wide, would have mixed uses of residential/commercial with a density of 30 units per acre.

“We were told to ‘give us something for first time home buyers as well as empty nesters and seniors who don’t want to have to take care of property anymore,’ ” said Garza. They have partnered with a builder of senior housing. “Not an old folks home but for seniors who want to live life to the fullest.”

Some homes will have porches facing the central park or the river, and green belts will wind through the property. “We envision lanes lined with sycamores, oaks, pepper trees, sort of a ‘Mayberry RFD look,” he said.

Because that area has been designated for so-called “affordable housing,” by the County, the development will include “entry level,” and “affordable housing.” The term “affordable,” will mean different things to different people. However, according to Garza, “We see this as being the most affordable property in Northern San Diego.” Homes will range from 1,500 square feet to 3,500 SF.

“Everything we are planning will have a connection to a trail,” he added. The trails will also follow Moosa Creek.

The retail center is envisioned as a “destination” center rather than a place where people stop, “on the way home.” “We want it to be the place you look forward to coming to, with a few restaurants,” in addition to a small market and possible a drug store. The kind of store they favor is a Trader Joe’s, a Sprouts, a Daniel’s Market, or, most likely, a Stater Brothers.”

Despite claims by another developer on the other end of town (who will remain nameless) who claims to have Stater Brothers locked down, Garza claimed his company is actually favored to get it. “We know we are the favorite site for them, no matter what anybody else tells you. We’re all in the hunt for them, we are all talking to them,” he said.

He added, “We would be just as happy with a large market across the street from us,” while his development provided destination type retail and dining.

The project will require a Major Use Permit from the County.

How soon could the project become a reality?  “We could be grading before the end of next year,” said Garza.

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