MGI finishing first 'New Urbanism' project in San Diego Houston-based The Morgan Group Inc. (MGI) is finishing The Missions at Rio Vista, which is the first transit-oriented development sanctioned by San Diego and the first "New Urbanism" project for MGI.

The developer is transforming a 90-acre sand and gravel quarry into a 14-acre, 29-building property with 464 units. The project embraces New Urbanism ideals by featuring housing, shops, workplaces and parks within walking distance of each other and transit stops, such as the Light Rail Transit Mission Valley West trolley line.

The Missions at Rio Vista will feature Mission Revival architecture - white stucco and red tile roofs - reminiscent of traditional San Diego Irving Gill style. The property will provide alternatives to automobile use with grid-patterned, tree-lined streets and paths to encourage walking and bicycle riding. More than 50% of the parking requirement is met with tuck-under garages with direct access to the units, further de-emphasizing the presence of vehicles.

The property will also have a business center equipped with computers, software, periodicals and fax machines to promote telecommuting, while all apartments will be pre-wired for high-speed Internet access.

MGI expects completion of the Missions at Rio Vista in June.

Berkshire named top Freddie Mac structured transactions lender

Freddie Mac named Boston-based Berkshire Mortgage Finance the top originator of structured transactions in 1998.

Berkshire closed $316 million in mortgage loans with Freddie Mac last year, including $220 million with the Structured Transactions Group. The transactions involved more than 29 properties and more than 5,300 units. One of the loans was a $180 million financing of 17 Las Vegas apartment properties owned by a subsidiary of the Camden REIT. Berkshire closed more than $2 billion in total loans in 1998.

First above-ground garage concept unveiled in California Irvine, Calif.-based developer Legacy Partners and designer Kaufman Meeks + Partners, opened California's first apartment community featuring a hidden-garage design.

The Tierra del Rey community in Marina del Rey incorporates a garage design that allows the developer to build a complex on a constrained in-fill site while creating a gated environment for residents. The 170-unit project is wrapped around a four-level garage structure that is mostly hidden within the complex. The above-ground garage placement in the center of the 2.3-acre site eliminates the need for surface parking or costly underground parking. Each level of the structure is connected to the corresponding level of the apartment complex by a pedestrian bridge.

"The placement of the garage structure above ground is a simple but elegant design solution that can have a profound impact on the land use efficiency and cost of building multifamily projects," says Kevin Newman, managing partner of Kaufman Meeks' Newport Beach, Calif., office. "The garage design alone can save a developer up to $10 a sq. ft. in construction costs."

Kaufman Meeks has designed 14 similar projects throughout the United States, two of which are under construction in Santa Monica, Calif., and San Jose, Calif.

Post begins mixed-use project in Orlando; finishes lease-up Atlanta-based Post Properties Inc. has begun construction on a new mixed-use community in Orlando, Fla., and has finished the lease-up of Post Ridge in Atlanta.

In Orlando, Post has started work on Parkside by Post. Originally a downtown hotel, the property was first converted to residential units in the 1970s. Now Post is renovating the existing building into 121 units, building 123 new residential units and adding a 480-space parking garage. The project will cost approximately $27 million, and completion is scheduled for the third quarter of 2000. When complete, Parkside by Post will be the only residential property that sits directly on Lake Eola and Eola Park, a central meeting place in downtown Orlando.

Post also announced the completion and lease-up of Phase II at Post Ridge, located in the Galleria/Cumberland area of northwest Atlanta.The 202-unit, $18.4 million Phase II includes 69 Savannah houses, which feature a townhouse-like design, many with attached garages. The Post Ridge project features 434 residential homes within walking distance of approximately 3 million sq. ft. of commercial, office and retail development.