OCEANSIDE — The city recently bought a chunk of the former Garrison Elementary school site with plans to build a sewer lift station and likely more single or multi-family homes.
Discussions about purchasing the entire 11.2-acre property started in July 2020 when Oceanside Unified School District reached out to the city with plans to sell the 333 Garrison Street property, which still contains numerous buildings and modular units that were used as classrooms.
Eventually, the conversation shifted to just purchasing a 3-acre parcel to be used for the planned El Corazon Sewer Lift Station instead.
Early last year, the school district informed the city about receiving several developers’ offers for the property higher than its original appraisal and was now only interested in selling a three-acre parcel to the city.
The entire property is about $13.5 million while the 3-acre parcel was valued at around $3.6 million. Through negotiations, the city is only paying $3.3 million with an additional $100,000 set aside for the due diligence and review process.
“It was originally much lower from the initial appraisal to where we ended up because the market has shifted a lot and the developer has driven the price up,” said Vicki Gutierrez, the city’s real estate manager, at the Jan. 26 Oceanside City Council meeting when the purchase was approved.
The remaining 8.2 acres of land will be purchased by a private developer who intends to build single or multi-family housing there. Still, the ultimate fate of the remaining Garrison property is still in the hands of the city, as any plans with housing must go through the Planning Commission and City Council first.
“The school district was driving a hard bargain,” said Mayor Esther Sanchez. “It would have been great for the city to have bought the whole parcel and planned it out in terms of affordable housing.”
As part of a cooperation agreement between the city, school district and the developer, the city is not obligated to stop or delay its work on the sewer lift station to accommodate the developer.
Funding for the El Corazon Lift Station Project comes mostly from sewer flow and sewer service charges and falls under the city’s Sewer Improvements Program. Another project under this program is the Oceanside Mesa Garrison Force Main, which would construct a 15,000-linear foot, 36-inch force main between the San Luis Rey Reclamation Facility and the new El Corazon Lift Station.
The lift station will be built at the north end of the former school site near the corner of Garrison and Mesa Drive and would be designed to pump 5 million gallons of wastewater daily. The city currently operates more than 30 other sewer lift stations throughout Oceanside.
Garrison Elementary closed during the 2019-2020 school year due to sinkhole damage. Students were moved to San Luis Rey Elementary, which is set to undergo major renovations over the next few years and will be renamed after Pablo Tac, a local indigenous scholar born at Mission San Luis Rey in 1822, in an effort to better unite the two merged schools.