The transformation of Mission Valley from agricultural land to a commercial core has long been a topic of interest to San Diego planners. The San Diego section of the APA kicked off 2020 with a lunch event that gave a glimpse into how this community might continue to transition into the future. The focus of “The Future of Mission Valley” event was the recently adopted update to the Mission Valley Community Plan and a tour of one of San Diego’s most interesting new developments, the Legacy International Center.

The Mission Valley Community Planner and SDAPA’s very own Section Director, Nancy Graham, began the event with a presentation on the update to the Mission Valley Community Plan. Nancy gave a brief look at Mission Valley’s history and illustrated how a 1958 rezone for a shopping mall (what is presently known as Westfield Mission Valley) set off a chain of events that led to the commercialization of the community. In Nancy’s words, “It all started with a mall.” The updated community plan aims to capitalize on this centrally located and transit-rich community through the integration of a mix of uses that offers housing, employment, and recreational opportunities. New road connections, bridges across the river, dedicated bus lanes, and bicycle lanes will enhance multi-modal connectivity throughout Mission Valley and provide a sense of community for new and existing residents. One tool used for implementing the community’s vision, are six newly adopted Mixed-Use Zones. The Mixed-Use Zones will provide flexibility in development while activating the pedestrian environment.

Following Nancy’s presentation was an overview and tour of the Legacy International Center from the Legacy Center Foundation Executive Director, Jim Penner. Jim provided insight into the vision of the center as a resort that honors the life work of Christian minister, Morris Cerullo. The permitting and development of the center, although complex and controversial, was completed on a short timeframe. The foundation’s dedication to fulfilling the minister’s vision has resulted in a nearly completed hotel, spa, conference center, restaurant, and more.

Jim’s tour of the center demonstrated a unique blend of technology and religion adorning a luxury hotel and conference center. Attractions such as the dome theater filled with moving chairs and the large sphere made of touch screens are examples of some of the high-tech components throughout the center. Religious overtones are intertwined throughout the center as well, some more apparent than others. One branch of the tour led through a stone hallway resembling an ancient cave, the walls of the cave are decorated with artwork illustrating biblical figures. The juxtaposition of futuristic and historical elements is representative of the foundation’s commitment to attracting younger generations.

With the newly updated community plan and a facility such as the Legacy International Center, the future of Mission Valley is certainly a curiosity that will continue to engage San Diego planners for decades to come.