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"We believe in the park." Alan Grant says his family's support of the 34-acre public park at SDSU Mission Valley is "the right thing to do." Photographed at river park groundbreaking, Apr. 20, 2022. "We believe in the park." Alan Grant says his family's support of the 34-acre public park at SDSU Mission Valley is "the right thing to do." Photographed at river park groundbreaking, Apr. 20, 2022.

Grant Family Adds Significant Support to River Park at SDSU Mission Valley

With a major gift to San Diego State University, the family continues its commitment to developing meaningful public spaces.
By Lisa Haney

A $500,000 gift to San Diego State University establishes The Alta and Franklin Grant Family Mission Valley River Park Fund to help develop, operate and maintain the river park at SDSU Mission Valley.

Alta and Franklin Grant moved from South Dakota to San Diego in 1912 and eight years later acquired land in Mission Valley, some of which was eventually used for aggregate mining. Today their six grandchildren lead the family company, Alta Co. LLC, which made the gift to The Campanile Foundation. The gift announcement comes the day after the university held a groundbreaking ceremony at SDSU Mission Valley to kick off construction of the river park.

The Grant family has long-time ties to Mission Valley and the land surrounding the San Diego River due to its land holdings — and to SDSU, with family members from three generations as alumni. 

The gift to support the river park was a “perfect fit,” said Alan Grant, president of Alta Co. LLC. 

“We believe in the park. We believe in education. We believe in San Diego State. It's the right thing to do,” he said.

Public parks and open space are important to the Grant family. When they partnered with Sudberry Properties to develop Civita — a master-plan community north of Friars Road in Mission Valley on the site of the former sand and gravel quarry they owned — a public park was at the top of the family’s must-have list. The resulting 14-acre park, designed by Schmidt Design Group and opened in 2017, goes through the heart of the residential community and includes a community garden, picnic grove, dog park, basketball courts, splash pad and a waterfall. 

“The community needs a place to go and to breathe … and that becomes a park,” Grant said.

“The Grant family have been Mission Valley landowners for 100 years and are completely committed to enhancing the quality of life in San Diego,” said Tom Sudberry, founder and chairman of Sudberry Properties. 

“As partners in the Civita community, they have encouraged the development of the premier public park in the county,” said Sudberry. “The Grants’ recent donation to SDSU for its river park development is just another example of the extraordinary generosity and community commitment this family has been making for over a century.”

The Grant family also deeded 17 acres of riverfront property in Mission Valley — two adjacent parcels at the northeast corner of Qualcomm Way at Camino Del Rio North — to the San Diego River Park Foundation in 2009. The foundation plans to transform the land, valued at more than $10 million, into the River Center at Grant Park, an urban river park and educational center where students can participate in nature-based STEAM learning activities. The project will also be one of the centerpieces of the foundation’s larger ambition to create a public park system and a continuous trail along the 52-mile San Diego River from its headwater near Julian all the way through Mission Valley and to Ocean Beach.

That dream for a continuous trail is part of what inspired the Grants’ gift to support the development of the river park at SDSU Mission Valley and to continue helping create public parks along the river that the community can enjoy.

“There’s trees to be climbed,” Alan Grant said. “There’s rocks to be climbed on and looked under, to see what little critter is there. Is it going to be a lizard? Is it going to be a frog? … For kids to get the chance to be kids, and for mom and dad to know that there is a safe environment ... That's so important.”

The family named the fund to honor Alta and Franklin Grant, who taught them to “share and share alike” — and hopes they would be proud of the gift to help build the river park.

“Without our grandparents, none of this happens,” Alan Grant said. “It's a blessing, and we’re very grateful to have that blessing to be able to share.”

For those thinking about contributing to SDSU Mission Valley, Alan Grant said: “Why not join it at whatever level? It doesn’t matter the number of zeros in a check, but the philosophy behind wanting to be involved with the growth of this city.”

He’s looking forward to visiting SDSU Mission Valley, seeing the future educational spaces there and attending Aztec football games at Snapdragron Stadium. But most of all he’s looking forward to seeing the river park come to fruition late next year.

“The park is what resonates with our family,” he said, “and so that’s what we chose to support.”