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Final Phases of Civita Park Open

The expansion includes playgrounds, picnic grove, Mining Relics Garden,

Lookout Meadow event pavilion, bocce court and three gardens

When complete, Civita will contain 60 acres of parks, open space and trails

The final phases of Civita Park are complete and have opened to the public, adding approximately four acres of colorful playgrounds, game areas, ornamental gardens and open lawns to the 14.3-acre park, which is the largest park in Mission Valley.

(Per the San Diego County public health order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, playground equipment is closed for use and the park is open for passive use only.)

Highlights include:

  • Two playgrounds, one for children 2-5 and the other for kids 5-12. In addition to traditional playground equipment, the playgrounds include rock-climbing walls, giant tree trunks set horizontally, rope bridges, swings and spinners;

  • A shaded picnic grove and family restrooms near the playgrounds;

  • The Mining Relics Garden, which showcases preserved mining equipment that was used when the Civita Park site was operated as a quarry, such as a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer, large augers and conveyer belts;

  • “Lookout Meadow,” an event pavilion with a landmark shade structure that mimics the design of the Civita amphitheater. The secluded area was designed for informal gatherings and group events, such as weddings, birthday parties or small concerts. The space can be reserved through the city of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department;

  • The Frame, an Instagram-worthy, 10-foot-high structure located in Lookout Meadow. Certain to become a much-photographed park icon, The Frame honors Ken Grant, an avid photographer, whose vision was instrumental in the design of the park;

  • A quiet garden zone where visitors can stroll through a scent garden, succulent garden and winged garden – all with horticultural signage; and

  • A regulation-size bocce court adjacent to a supersize picnic table and game tables.

Civita Park is a public-private partnership of Sudberry Properties, master developer of Civita, the City of San Diego through the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Grant family, which owned the property and mined a quarry on the site for many decades. The city park was designed by Schmidt Design Group, developed by Sudberry Properties, and built by Hazard Construction Company. The development team also included Architects HGW, Rick Engineering and BrightView Landscapes LLC.

“We’re excited to replace a barren quarry with a beautiful park that will be enjoyed for many generations,” said Marco Sessa, senior vice president of Sudberry Properties. “It was important to the Grant family that Civita be designed around a central, unifying park,” he said. “We are proud to have implemented their vision in a way that benefits the entire region.”

In a statement, the Grant family said, “It is an honor to give back this land to our native San Diego. We hope it provides a welcome respite from the busy world that surrounds us all.”

The first phases of Civita Park have already earned major industry accolades. In 2017, the Urban Land Institute’s San Diego/Tijuana District bestowed its “Healthy Public Places” award on Civita Park, honoring the park’s “creative development practices, inventive partnerships, imaginative problem-solving and visionary ideas.” Additional recognition has come from the American Society of Landscape Architects’ San Diego chapter and the San Diego Architectural Foundation, which gave the park an “Orchid.”

The initial phases of the park feature Celebration Plaza, a large civic plaza featuring an outdoor amphitheater, an interactive 48-jet water feature, a game area with a life-size chessboard, a row of dramatic wisteria-covered shade structures over “outdoor living rooms,” rose gardens, a military tribute and restrooms. It also includes open fields and courts, a community garden, trails for walking and running, and a dog park designed for large and small dogs.

A dramatic focal point is the 60-foot-high Civita Falls, a seasonal waterfall that is fed by runoff from neighborhoods in Civita and Serra Mesa. The runoff is then directed down Civita Creek, a bioswale containing special soil and plants that filter and clean the water.

“The experiences, amenities, forms and themes within the park are inspired by the rich history of Mission Valley and this specific site,” said Glen Schmidt, FASLA, president of Schmidt Design Group, which designed the park. “The design of Civita Park grew out of the vision of the Grant and Sudberry families and the thoughtful feedback we received from the San Diego Parks and Recreation staff, Mission Valley Planning Group, the Serra Mesa Recreation Council and hundreds of area residents who participated in planning sessions.”

Schmidt added, “In addition to being a place to exercise and play, we have envisioned Civita Park as a place to connect with family and community, to be inspired by the natural world and to be charmed by the artistic surprises sprinkled throughout.”

Civita Park is decorated with 30 bronze animal figures created by Encinitas sculptor James Nelson and his departed wife T.J. Dixon; The Frame, fabricated by San Diego sculptor Amos Robinson; mosaics by La Jolla artist Jane Wheeler, and a colossal 72-foot long, 270-degree mural in the pedestrian tunnel beneath Via Alta that connects the main portion of Civita Park to the dog park by Encinitas artist Kevin Anderson.

“It is the hope of our entire team that everyone who visits – from the very young to the very old – will be pleased and inspired by the vistas, aromas, experiences, and sounds in this enchanting park,” said Sessa.

Planning continues on three additional parks in Civita: Creekside Park, Franklin Ridge Park and Phyllis Place Park. When complete, the 230-acre community of Civita will contain 60 acres of public parks, open space and trails.


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