CARLSBAD — Nearly six years after the Carlsbad City Council rejected his proposal for a mixed-use project at the intersection of State Street and Carlsbad Village Drive, a local developer is giving things another try.
The city’s planning department is reviewing an application for a four-story, 45-foot-tall development — the maximum allowed in the Village — with nearly 3,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and five residential units above, known as Carlsbad Village Square.
Proposed by developer Leor Lakritz, the development is the second iteration of the failed Carlsbad Village Center project that was denied by the City Council in a 2-1 vote in 2018. At the time, the project faced heavy pushback from community members concerned that it did not fit the character of the Village.
While the new project has much of the same bulk as before, architect Kirk Moeller said there are several changes. It no longer features an underground parking garage, instead relying on nine lift parking spaces, is pulled back slightly from the property line, and features a more modern design than the previous craftsman style.
“I think our newer building is less imposing than the original,” said Moeller, who also resides in Carlsbad.
Despite its differences from the original project, Carlsbad Village Square is already drawing similar concerns. Last Thursday, dozens of residents expressed their disdain for the design at an informational meeting at the project site, which currently features two container-style eateries, Choice Juicery and Crackheads.
While some attendees were less angry about the project than others, many agreed that the project did not fit the area.
“It’s taller than anything else on this block,” said resident John Raue. “Its design is a lot better than the design that got voted down three or four years ago, but it just doesn’t fit the feeling of the village.”
Christine Davis, executive director for the Carlsbad Village Association, said she was encouraged that the applicant organized the meeting but was disappointed that the format and location did not allow for more productive discussion. Many attendees said they could not hear Moeller, while others were shouting over one another.
“I was hoping to talk more about the proposed architectural style, character, and aesthetics since this location is so prominent that it will influence future development in Carlsbad Village. I was also hoping to talk about their commitment to adding retail that will complement downtown and offer us something unique or something we don’t currently have. I am looking forward to hearing more from them,” Davis said.
Lakritz told The Coast News that the proposed project complies with all current development standards and that he is not asking for any variance or zoning change.
“I think it will have a big impact, a big windfall. I think it will attract more tourists and provide more places for people to entertain themselves,” Lakritz said. “The whole Village is changing — there are new stores and new restaurants; everything is moving forward. I’m just exercising my right to move forward too.”
He said he is also discussing with the current tenants about continuing to operate in the new development.
Despite strong adverse reactions at the initial information session, Moeller said they have also received positive feedback about the project.
“There were a lot of people who came to that meeting, and believe it or not, we do have a lot of supporters also — they just don’t show up to events like that,” Moeller said.
The five residential units are intended to be long-term rentals at market rates, Moeller said. Because there are fewer than seven units, no affordable units are required under the city’s inclusionary housing policy.
Associate Planner Lauren Yzaguirre said the application is still in the early review phase and will likely go to the Planning Commission for a hearing in the fall.