Council approves plans for retirement community

CARLSBAD — A unanimous vote was reached to move forward with a posh and contemporary retirement community after more than two hours of staff presentations, public hearing and City Council comments Jan. 10.
Dos Colinas, a 305-unit professional care facility, with a mixture of unit types, will be housed on a 46-acre property site located in the Sunny Creek area, south of Cannon Road and east of El Camino Real.

Dos Colinas will be developed and managed by WESTLiving LLC, based in Carlsbad. It currently operates other retirement communities in Arizona and Washington and in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The application brought forward to City Council approved and adopted items such as zone changes and general plan amendments. Shannon Werneke, associate planner with the city, first provided an in-depth presentation.
Dos Colinas, a continuing care retirement community, will include 58 cottages and 166 units for independent living. At a future date, 20 of those living units will be determined for affordable housing. Additionally, another 81 rooms will be dedicated to an assisted living and care facility.

John Rimbach, president of WESTLiving, pointed out that the Dos Colinas campus will also provide an on-site health center, on-call and visiting physicians and licensed and trained medical staff. “We provide service-enhanced levels of care that are needed throughout the aging process,” he said.

Its long list of amenities will include a theater, an art studio, a concierge, a salon and spa, a fitness center, a hobby shop, restaurants and bistros, a gift shop, a business center and a travel planning office.

WESTLiving is part of the West Family Companies, which are visible throughout Carlsbad. They operate Westmart, Bistro West, West Steak House, West Inn & Suites, and the Rancho Carlsbad Gold Club.

“We are long-term owners, so we have a vested interest in the community and a vested interest with our neighbors as to what happens in the community,” Rimbach said. “We look to have a positive impact on residents, families and team members; we want to be a high-quality place to work and a partner with families who have loved ones at our community.”

It’s estimated that 180 employment opportunities will be available at Dos Colinas once its doors open.

Before they break ground, WESTLiving will construct 4,000 feet of road extension on College Boulevard, which will cost roughly $20 million. That extension is expected to begin in the spring of 2013 and could last 15 months.

Councilman Mark Packard said he was astonished to hear the road extension commitment, describing it as a major financial investment to Carlsbad.

Ideally, Rimbach said, the facility would be completed in 2016.

Also part of the Dos Colinas project is relocating their neighbors’ existing RV storage and garden a quarter mile away from where it currently is. The neighbor, Rancho Carlsbad Estates, is delighted with the new locale saying it will fare better for them regarding terrain, lighting and safety.

“We strongly support this project,” said Bill Arnold of Rancho Carlsbad Owners’ Association.

Arnold told City Council that their association knew that sooner or later the nearby vacant land would be developed.  “And it couldn’t be any better than what was presented tonight — you’ve got a high-end senior living center.”

Although the City Council vote was unanimous, group members of Preserve Calavera and Friends of Aviara voiced their opposition to the project on various subjects like flood zone and growth management issues. Friends of Aviara believed there were still “big question marks” with the Dos Colinas build in regard to low-income housing requirements, drainage issues and state licensing.

“Obviously, with a project like this you are not going to make 100 percent of the community happy,” Mayor Matt Hall said. “But at the end of the day, it will build a quality project and one that we can be proud of.”

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