MXD, TOD Go Beyond Downtown

Jun 03, 2016

SAN DIEGO—Zephyr sees a great potential for mixed-use developments that are authentic to the communities they are placed in—including the North County coastal region of San Diego, the firm’s new VP of urban development Ryan Herrell tells
We spoke exclusively with Herrell about his goals in his new role and how urban development fits into the San Diego market. What do you hope to accomplish in your new role with Zephyr?

Herrell: I am excited to join a great team here at Zephyr. Personally, I enjoy building things, whether that is building a mixed-use development, building relationships or building a division of a company. I will continue to drive the current vision of developing projects that we are proud of that use land intelligently and that are authentic to their environments. At the end of the day, we want to develop projects that meet our own “cool” meter, that get us excited. My goal is to build on this platform, which has already been established here at Zephyr, and further grow our product type as well as our geographical reach. How does urban development fit into the San Diego market?

Herrell: The San Diego urban landscape has had many different phases throughout the decades. Right now is an exciting time. The push in the East Village, the renaissance in Little Italy, the neighborhoods that border Balboa Park—Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, North Park, etc.—these different neighborhoods are each defining what urban development is to the specific area in their own authentic way. Residential, hotel and entertainment have been the focus for Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. The focus needs to now be balanced with companies anchoring innovative workspace as well as improvement to public and shared transportation. Future development in San Diego will need to further balance different uses to create a truly vibrant environment. Aside from Downtown, which other submarkets are receptive to this type of development here?

Herrell: I do not see urban development as just about dense environments or infill development; it is exploring the way people live. In that context, a lot of us at Zephyr, myself included, live in the North County coastal region of San Diego. We see a great potential for mixed-use developments that are authentic to the communities they are placed in and complement the active and sustainable lifestyles of the people who choose to live in those areas. We are currently working on a project, 101 Solana, on a brownfield, transit-oriented site on Pacific Coast Highway in Solana Beach. We are working with the community to bring a project that will be a gathering place providing chef-driven dining options, active retail spaces, creative-office space and coastal residential flats. The joining of these uses—centered around the community to enhance walkability and livability—will be the future of development in similar submarkets. What else should our readers know about urban development?

Herrell: It’s all about the way we live. Both urban and suburban development is driven by lifestyle choices. Where the suburban residential neighborhood once stood for community, community is being redefined in mixed uses. People are wanting to accomplish more in a smaller radius. It is not just the Millennials who are pushing this new lifestyle, but we are seeing it also from the empty-nesters, who now desire the culture, restaurants and walkability an urban environment offers. Our approach to urban development is place making. We are making places where people want to be.


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