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San Diego project touted as first resident-owned neighborhood redevelopment in US

The Urban Land Institute, a global organization of real estate and land use experts, hosted a walking tour of Market Creek Plaza Tuesday.

The site’s decades-long redevelopment is being touted as the first project in the U.S. to be designed, built, and partly owned by neighborhood residents.

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Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s Narri Cooper was one of the community investors in Market Creek Plaza.

“The mall was built after the community said we need a national grocery store, we want a bank, we want a Starbucks. So there was different things that were specifically high priority for the community, and those things are in the mall today,” Cooper said.

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Construction workers build a future Live Well Center in Chollas View, April 19, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
Construction workers build a future Live Well Center in Chollas View in San Diego, Calif. April 19, 2022.

The construction that has taken place over the past 20 years includes housing, retail, education and community use spaces, such as Chollas Creek Park.

The goal of the long term redevelopment is to create economic opportunity without displacing locals or fueling inequities.


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According to RISE San Diego president Tony Young, one issue that came up is how to address the future of housing in the neighborhood.

“How do we find the balance to build product that (community members) can afford without creating just a whole bunch of low income housing that maybe creates some more difficult issues for us, but also welcome people to be a part of community in the future,” Young said.

A woman walks into Market Creek Plaza, April 19, 2022.
Jacob Aere
A woman walks into Market Creek Plaza in San Diego, Calif. April 19, 2022.

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Not everyone is excited about the changes.

KPBS spoke with a woman that was shopping at Market Creek Plaza who wanted to only be identified as Debra.

She grew up in the community and says incomes for people who live in the neighborhood aren't keeping up with the rising cost of living.

“Changes as far as providing more services to us are good, but the price that is happening right now is not good. Not for the people that live in this area,” the Valencia Park resident said.

An archway entrance to Chollas Creek Park leads to a dirt walking trail, April 19, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
An archway entrance to Chollas Creek Park leads to a dirt walking trail. San Diego, Calif. April 19, 2022.

The mixed-housing, retail and community use redevelopment will continue to be built in the surrounding areas of Chollas View.

While improvements to the area are wanted by most locals, minimizing gentrification and keeping local residents in the neighborhood were main topics discussed at the panel event.

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