The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad Arts and Antique Mall closed its doors on Aug. 31. The building was sold and will be renovated to include retail and office tenants and a restaurant. Photo courtesy Joe Kinsey

Antique mall closes, will return as commercial space

CARLSBAD — For nearly 30 years the Carlsbad Antique Mall has been a staple along State Street.

But now, after owner Bill and Evo Ostrie sold the property, a major renovation will bring a much-needed upgrade to the site, said Sumeet Parekh, managing partner for HP Investors. The project received strong backlash after a San Diego Reader story earlier this year incorrectly lumped it in with another proposed development on State and Roosevelt streets.

Brendan Foote, principal at FABRIC Investments, a development firm, was the brains behind the renovated Bloc and Jeune et Jolie, a co-working space and French restaurant, respectively.

State Street Commons, though, is a $15 million project covering 22,000 square feet and in the works for nearly three years, Parekh said. The project does not need to be approved by the Planning Commission or City Council since it’s a renovation, Foote said.

“I think Carlsbad is becoming a more dynamic area,” he added. “The idea of having this site with the existing buildings that had so much potential … really provided a really great opportunity to do something unique here.”

Foote said the buildings require significant retrofitting and upgrades to meet current state building codes. Still, he said he is keeping the integrity of the buildings and the two Butler frames, while stepping back and opening up the frontage to bring a feel still consistent with the Village.

And while two of the three buildings are connected, the third, next to Mas Fina Cantina, will have a walkway constructed to connect the building. Foote said he will reduce the interior square footage, while increasing patio seating.

As for the use, Foote said it will be commercial and retail with a restaurant with a patio and double-sided fireplace. The restaurant will keep its corrugated metal roof (Quonset hut), similar to Campfire, although the façade will be removed so the unique structure can be more prominently featured, Foote said.

“It’s rare to find a parcel this size in this dense of an area,” he added. “The challenge is nine of 10 people would look at this as a ground-up development. There’s plenty of ground-up residential going up. I saw the potential for this site to be more of a gathering place.”

Still, the closing of the mall was a tough pill to swallow, said manager Sherry Dupuis. She said it was a matter of time before change came as the new direction of development in the Village was foreseen.

“It’s the plan of Carlsbad and it was obvious it was going to happen,” she said. “It wasn’t a surprise at all.”

However, Dupuis said she was happy the new owners are keeping the integrity of the buildings, which have come to be a sort of landmark along State Street. She was also sympathetic to the Ostries, who are in their 80s and no longer have the desire to operate the mall.

Dupuis said it was like a family, from the patrons to the more than 100 dealers. She also said it became tradition for families to come down and shop, noting the children of many customers would return as adults.

Dupuis said the Ostries gave the dealers until the end of September to clear out, and then the renovations are expected to begin later this year once the city approves the permits. Some dealers, Dupuis said, are looking for another space to share, with one looking to own the operation and hopefully bring back as many, including Dupuis, she explained.

“This was the best job I ever had,” Dupuis said. “It’s been a dream come true for a lot of us. You come here and enjoy the day. No bad days, really.”