Green Development Has A Community Motivated

San Diego‘s Village at Market Creek is a classic example of the type of mixed-use development espoused by the field of New Urbanism, encompassing residential, commercial, and recreational spaces, connected via walkable streets and easy access to public transportation. It’s a combination of features that works to increase quality of life for residents while decreasing their overall carbon footprint, and it’s also the sort of thing that tends to earn green certification through the U.S. Green Building Council‘s LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) program, as this development has at the Silver level.

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a non-profit organization, served as the developer on this project, but the plans, processes, and “assets of community change” have been owned and led by the residents of this southeastern San Diego community. The plan is to transform up to 84 contiguous acres of blighted properties into a vibrant cultural “village” that includes different types of housing and retail as well as open spaces oriented around the Euclid transit hub.

The plan also calls for the creation of 1,000 affordable homes, 2,000 jobs and 250 new businesses, 5,500 linear feet of restored wetlands and 1.6 million square feet of new construction.

The Village at Market Creek

image via Village at Market Creek

The effort began in 1997, and since then, teams of more than 5,000 residents have worked in partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to turn the widespread blight in this “historically under-invested community” into an economically vibrant community that offers the goods, services, homes, and spaces the community had on its wish list. Though it’s not yet complete,

The Village, as a result of its activities, generated $92.7 million in annual economic activity in 2010, recapturing dollars that would otherwise flow out into other areas.

As you might expect, this development has attracted some attention. In 2010, The Village was named as one of only five “Gold” Catalyst Projects by the California Sustainable Strategies Pilot Program and has received area-wide cleanup grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has taken on the role of a national demonstration project for local involvement in neighborhood revitalization, and currently attracts hundreds of visitors interested in learning more about the community-based approach to sustainable development.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.