SOUTH COUNTY Chula Vista breaks ground on new library, office complex, but it won’t have SDSU studios as originally planned A groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of construction on the first phase of UniverCity in Chula Vista. (Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune) The city and university continue negotiating how to fund and develop production studios separate from the 168,000-square-foot building BY TAMMY MURGAREPORTER SEPT. 25, 2023 3:27 PM PT Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Chula Vista broke ground Monday on a 168,000-square-foot complex that will bring state-of-the-art office space and the first library in nearly three decades, but it won’t include production studios for San Diego State University as originally planned. The $89 million project on Millenia Avenue in Otay Ranch kickstarts construction of the city’s Millenia Office Campus, an ecosystem of office and community spaces aimed at bolstering workforce development opportunities, wellness and higher education as it is 2 miles from a 375-acre, city-owned parcel envisioned to house universities and businesses. “This is a great project that, with office and library space, will help attract business, create high-tech jobs and attract a four-year university,” said Mayor John McCann. ADVERTISING A rendering of a 168,000-square-foot building that will house a new library and top-notch office space in Chula Vista. (Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune) Plans include a four-story building with 108,000 square feet of office space for lease and 60,000 square feet for what’s expected to be the largest public library in Chula Vista. It will have a passport office, a business incubator with small business resources and dedicated community gathering areas. The city is paying $59 million of the $89 million to develop the building. San Diego’s legislative leaders secured an additional $30 million in state funding. PAID CONTENT Casa Familiar’s first female board chair is leading with heart By Casa Familiar Anita Dharapuram helping to guide Casa Familiar as the community nonprofit marks its 50th year City officials said the project will address some essential needs: a new library and Class A office space. Chula Vista last built a library in 1995 and has long needed more east of state Route 125 as there is only one, according to a 2011 city report. “The Otay Ranch library is a super small facility, only about 5,000 square feet in two different storefronts,” said city Library Director Joy Whatley. “We’ve pretty much maximized our capacity. Storytime, for example, can often yield up to 90 families. So, it’s time for this community to get a new library.” Chula Vista also needs Class A office space to offer to the region’s leading industry clusters. CBRE, the city’s exclusive broker, is already seeking tenants. Ideally, the city would like “unique and forward-thinking users,” such as hospital and medical centers, life science research laboratories, technology campuses, corporate headquarters and higher education institutions. The project is not what the city had announced it would be a year ago, however. It even has a different name: UniverCity at Chula Vista. City officials had said the Cinema Arts Academic Center and Library building, as it was previously branded, would include state-of-the-art production studios for SDSU. In a memorandum of understanding, the university retained the right to occupy the building for more than 20 years at a cost of $1 per year. By moving its film, TV and new media production programs to Chula Vista, SDSU would help kickstart the city’s dream of having a four-year institution. But that plan hit a snag when the university said the building’s design could not accommodate the studios, which are central to expanding its programs. The city said it had already invested $4 million and that it would be too late to redesign the project. So, it moved forward with the building, but it will only house the library and office space. Earlier this year, the city and college agreed that the production studios should be built separately. They continue negotiating how to fund and develop them, city officials said Monday. SDSU could lease some office space to use as classrooms for its film, TV and new media programs but university officials have said they only envision expanding south if production studios are also built. Developers expect to have the UniverCity building ready by fall 2025.
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