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The Marja Acres housing development in Carlsbad has broken ground. Photo by Steve Puterski
The Marja Acres housing development in Carlsbad broke ground earlier this summer. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Marja Acres development under construction in Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — The city’s latest large-scale, mixed-use development broke ground in June and is on track to come online next year.

Marja Acres, the once quaint site of several businesses on El Camino Real, located south of Kelly Drive across from Robertson Ranch, was sold by Mike and Marja Selna in 2015 in a joint agreement with New Urban West and San Diego-based real estate investment firm, IHP Capital Partners.

IHP has now fully acquired the property and KB Home is the homebuilder, according to Jeff Enes, senior vice president of IHP Capital Partners.

According to Enes, IHP is primarily an equity investment firm specializing in residential development. For this project, there will be 248 three-story townhomes for sale, 46 affordable apartments for seniors 55 and older and 10,000-square feet of commercial space for a daycare (8,000 square feet) and restaurant.

A rendering shows the finished townhomes on site of the 20-acre Marja Acres property along El Camino Real and Kelly Drive. Courtesy rendering
A rendering shows the finished townhomes on site of the 20-acre Marja Acres property along El Camino Real and Kelly Drive. Courtesy rendering

“We got our grading permit early this year … and we started site construction in June,” Enes said. “We anticipate opening sales in second quarter of next year and the senior apartments will commence construction in January next year. We expect people to move in by the end of 2023.”

The 20-acre site, a mixture of flat land with a hill on the backside of the property, wasn’t without controversy once news broke of the sale agreement between Selnas and developers. Residents met with New Urban West several times to express concerns about the townhomes looking down onto their properties.

Enes said the plans ensures the homes will not have any downward views of those single-family units along Park Drive.

Residents were also concerned with a proposed 70-foot-wide pathway connecting the development with the neighborhood that would have demolished a home.

“We’re totally pleased with (the developers’) willingness to remove that from the project,” resident Greg Corso said in 2017. “In this case, it seemed like they listened and made an appropriate decision. It’s a large development … we’ll still have the impacts of a large development. This was sort of an anomaly that galvanized our neighborhood.”

The residents and developers eventually found common ground for the project to move forward before it was approved  the City Council in 2020.

While the site was originally zoned for higher density housing, Enes said IHP and KB Home wanted to bring townhome residences that are more “attainable” than the average $1.5 million home in Carlsbad.

“It’s compelling for the city and we’re excited to deliver it to the prospective homebuyers,” he said. “There are a few benefits with the restaurant and the way the housing is set up. There’s a shortage of affordable housing in the city, so that’s another plus.”

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