Carlsbad’s long-delayed plan receives approval

Carlsbad’s long-delayed plan receives approval
Bulldozers and other construction trucks have been brought on site to start building the La Costa Town Square near La Costa Oaks homes (background). Grading on the site began in late December and construction will begin Jan. 7. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — After a long approval process and subsequent lawsuit, construction has started on the 83.1-acre La Costa Town Square project. The high end development will eventually consist of a large shopping center, commercial office buildings, and 63 homes in southeast Carlsbad.

“The goal is to provide a high quality shopping experience with a great mix of retail stores that will work well within the local area,” said Charles Eadie, a spokesperson from Hamilton Swift and Associates for the project’s owner, Property Development Centers.

Located at the intersection of La Costa Avenue and Rancho Santa Fe Road, the project was approved by City Council in mid-2009.

The City Council’s decision restricted the size of the center’s anchor store to prevent a major retailer from moving in and also changed the plans for multi-family residences into single-family homes.

The La Costa Town Square’s construction was delayed by a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit North County Advocates.

The lawsuit was settled in October 2011 when the developers agreed not to include a Walmart for at least 10 years, build only one gas station, reduce the office space, and minimize the outside lighting.

The shopping center of the La Costa town Center is predicted to open in summer 2014 and will feature a pedestrian plaza featuring a clock tower and fountain. Image courtesy of Property Development Centers

The retail section will contain a Vons grocery store, but the project’s other retailers have not been released at this time. The Town Square is being built to accommodate stores, one gas station, banks, and restaurants.

Project representatives have compared La Costa Town Square to the trendy nearby shopping center The Forum, which includes an Apple store, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and restaurants.

Yet Eadie admitted there is no guarantee that the retail and commercial spaces will be completely occupied given the current economic downturn and some empty storefronts in Carlsbad.

The commercial center will feature a pedestrian plaza with a clock tower, water fountain and landscaped trees and plants.

The city’s general fund will gain from the sales tax revenue generated by La Costa Town Square.

When La Costa Town Square was initially scheduled to be completed in 2011, the developer Aspen Properties estimated that the stores would generate almost $1 million in sales tax revenue for Carlsbad by 2012.

During review of the project, the city found that La Costa Town Square will result in “significant and unmitigated” environmental impacts, according to the final environmental impact report.

The laundry list of environmental effects includes light and noise pollution, increased traffic, affect global climate change and have a negative impact on sensitive plant species, air and water quality.

To compensate for these impacts, Property Development Centers is installing an environmental zone and bio-retention basins, using recycled water for irrigation, and relocating more than 1,000 endangered plants to a nearby preservation parcel, according to Eadie.

The owner has also paid the city $9.5 million in traffic fees for street improvements and new traffic signals to accommodate for the increased traffic.

The retail portion of the project is expected to open in summer 2014. The residential and office portions’ completion time has yet to be determined. Grading has started at the site and full construction will begin Jan. 7.

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