The industrial hub of Grantville is overlooked by new development, literally.

Recently built apartments look down on this bustling valley of strip malls and light industrial buildings where I have spent the last couple of days as part of my ongoing coverage of the District 7 City Council election.

Soon, residential development will begin appearing in the valley itself. How that development happens, and who ends up representing the neighborhoods that will be affected by it, has become a crucial issue in this year’s council election.

Yesterday, I took a tour of Mission Gorge Road and the nearby suburban neighborhood of Allied Gardens. I was driven by Anthony Wagner, a community activist and lifelong resident of Allied Gardens who is very involved in the ongoing argument about how and when this corridor will be developed into residential properties.

Full disclosure here: Wagner’s also volunteering on candidate Mat Kostrinsky’s campaign. He’s clearly partisan, but he’s also very knowledgeable about the various projects that will likely pop up along this stretch in the next few years.

Wagner told me that much of the land in this valley is owned by four major players who have already planned, and in some cases, secured permits for, large apartment projects.

How those projects end up getting planned and built will, to a large extent, define the future of Grantville as a neighborhood, Wagner said. Those apartment projects will have a direct impact on the 4,000 or so homes in nearby Allied Gardens, as well as the residents of a small cluster of homes in Grantville itself.

Will the area, known as Mission Gorge, become a traffic-congested mess of strip malls and high-density housing like Mission Valley? Or could it become a well-planned, livable community?

How the area evolves depends, to a large extent, on the stewardship of the City Council member who ends up representing it.

The City Council has the power to approve, deny and shape new development. It can insist on community involvement in planning projects and can hold developers accountable for providing infrastructure, parks and open space as well as bedrooms. Or, it can sit back and let Mission Valley happen again.

I asked Wagner to provide me with some key information about the four major projects already in the works.

Here they are:

The Centerpointe at Grantville:

• Approved: 2005.

• Address: 4304 Twain Ave.

• Size: 12-acre parcel with eight lots.

• Notes: The project will involve a rezone of approximately 12 acres from an industrial zone to a multifamily residential zone. The project could contain as many as 588 multi-family residential units and about 135,228 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space.

Archstone Mission Gorge:

•Approved: 2008.

•Address: Mission Gorge Road and Greenbrier Avenue.

•Size: 444 apartment units

Shawnee at Riverbend Mission Gorge:

•Not yet approved, draft environmental impact report for public comment ended April 9th, 2012.

•Address: Mission Gorge Road and Old Cliffs Road.

23 acre site, 996 Apartments and 23-27 row homes along the San Diego River; 37,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Superior Ready Mix Development, Mission Gorge:

•Not yet approved by Superior Raady Mix owns the land rights until 2033

•Address: 7500 Mission Gorge Road.

•Size: Could be as large as 2,000-plus apartments, in addition to mixed-use development.

For some background reading on Mission Gorge development, you should check out these two stories by Dorian Hargrove in the San Diego Reader.

As an added bonus, here’s a little video I shot of Wagner standing up on the bluff overlooking Mission Gorge Road, where three of the big developments are planned. It’s a good way to visualize the area that’s in discussion here.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at currently focused on local education. You can reach him at or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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