Nearly nine acres of vacant land at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Linda Vista Drive in San Marcos is poised to become a thriving village anchored by arts, makers, craft brewers and distillers, and schools, with an interactive park at its core.
This is the vision Shaheen Sadeghi delivered to the City Council as the plan for the 8.97-acre property adjacent to state Route 78 that his group, LAB Holding, LLC, agreed to purchase from the city at the July 10 City Council meeting.
“We really want this to become the backyard of this community,” Sadeghi said.
Sadeghi’s company has been the driving force behind a number of innovative small-retail and food-centric concepts in Orange County, such as the popular Anaheim Packing House and the Costa Mesa LAB Anti-Mall and The CAMP Eco Retail centers.
His group said the inspiration for the San Marcos proposal was a concept they planned in Arizona that fell through based on the 19th century Roycroft community of craft workers and artists in New York.
“We’ve seen this movement across the country where people are back and making things, and it’s very exciting,” Sadeghi said, citing North County’s huge craft beer presence as an example. “We want to gather these folks, create a village in the community…and really give the opportunity to celebrate, develop and promote local culture.”
The company presented bubble diagrams that showed how the different culinary, arts, entertainment, creative office and educational spaces would interplay with one another, with a long narrow park running through the heart of the project.
That park, Sadeghi said, would include an amphitheater, interactive displays and installation space for the artists in the village, educational and demonstration areas and a bridge over a dormant creek that they plan to restore.
Sagedhi said that many of the makers who would fill that space currently operate in business parks and sterile industrial spaces because they are cheaper, but the village would provide a more vibrant, permanent location that would also breathe life into property that has been vacant for years.
He compared it to the popular Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach.
“We really like to elevate the placemaking,” he said. “Think of it as Sawdust on steroids, and more permanent.”
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the sale of the property for $6.5 million. LAB Holding would pay a $100,000 deposit and a down payment equal to 5 percent of the purchase price and a promissory note for the remainder of the balance to be paid for in 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5.25-percent.
Additionally, the council approved a $5 million development loan to the company with the same fixed interest rate. LAB Holding would make interest only payments for the first four years of the five-year loan, then would be responsible for paying the principal and interest in the fifth year.
For the city, which purchased the parcels that comprise the lot between 2006 and 2010, the sale agreement culminates a nearly decades-long search for a suitor for the land. Staff members ramped up development efforts to find something that would be “community focused and commercially viable” and began discussions with LAB Holding in 2016, City Manager Jack Griffin said.
“We started what has been nearly a two-year conversation to get to the point where I think we have a viable project that will add really significant value to the city both from a residential — our residents in terms of a place to go that they don’t have access to not only in SM (San Marcos) but in North County — but will add value to our business community as well,” Griffin said.
Sagedhi, the former president of QuikSilver, Inc. action sportswear company, said that he expects the entire project will take anywhere between 24 to 36 months once escrow closes in 120 days. The timeline is contingent on the city’s entitlement process and the economy, he said.