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The Denny’s restaurant in the Carlsbad Village would be demolished and relocated in conjunction with the approval of the proposed Carlsbad Village Lofts between Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Mixed-use development proffered up for Carlsbad Village

CARLSBAD — An eye sore in Carlsbad Village may get much needed surgery.

A large mixed-use project slated for Carlsbad Village is in the midst of going through the city’s process.

The Carlsbad Village Lofts would sit just west of Interstate 5 and rest where Denny’s and the former Chevron gas station, which is no longer in operation, are currently located.

Denny’s will be demolished and relocated to make room for 106 apartments in a four-story building with a commercial component on the south end of the project off Carlsbad Village Drive. The proposed building will run north to Grand Avenue.

Proposing the development is the San Diego-based Gerber Group headed by Evan Gerber.

“I found a vacant, underutilized site within an existing community next to public transportation, so that’s where I start,” Gerber said. “Mixed-used in the proper sense. Ground floor retail, to activate street life … so we can have a sustainable, active community.”

According to Carlsbad Associate Planner Shannon Werneke, no staff reports have been prepared, but will be released one week before the project goes in front of the planning commission in January.

A rendering shows what the mixed-use Carlsbad Village Lofts project would look like. The project is slated to go before the Carlsbad Planning Commission in January. Courtesy rendering
A rendering shows what the mixed-use Carlsbad Village Lofts project would look like. The project is slated to go before the Carlsbad Planning Commission in January. Courtesy rendering


As for density, she said the base maximum allowable is 35 dwelling units per acre in the Carlsbad Village Master Plan, which is based on the 2.23-acre site, allowing for 78 units.

The proposed density is 47.5 dwelling units per acre and includes a request for a density increase with the inclusion of affordable housing for 20 percent of the base density units, so 16 units, Werneke added.

Gerber, though, spoke at length about the project and his company’s outreach and vision for the building. He said speaking with neighboring residents gave those involved what the style and consistency should be to fit within the Village.

The features of the project include revitalizing the land and removing the large sign adjacent to I-5.

In addition, the architecture would resonate with the Village’s “beachy” feel along with amenities such as a 174-space parking garage, rooftop garden with gathering areas for barbecues and yoga and retail space totaling 9,659-sqaure feet.

The building would be four stories, sit back about 50 feet from I-5 with an access road on the east side of the loft for emergency access and walking and a private roadway about 100 feet from the current entrance.

“I’ve been working on this since late 2014,” Gerber said. “There is an opportunity to be better, an opportunity to take this land, which was a former gas station and dirt lot, and turn it into something that can really bring life into the entry of the Village.”

The proposed building’s height is at 45 feet, as architectural projections at this height would accommodate an elevator and stairwells, according to Werneke.

“In Carlsbad, folks are particularly concerned, as they should be,” Gerber said of the height. “We are at the 45-foot height, but our building starts setting back at the second level so we are pulled off the sidewalk a little. Since 1996, the Village Master Plan has provided for a building height of 45 feet. It’s important because it allows for developers to provide housing, the uses we want and parking, which is very important for the community.”

Gerber said his project was developed alongside his passion for reducing carbon emissions, increasing public transportation and using renewable sources for the construction.

In fact, Gerber said garage spaces for electric vehicles will be provided along with bike storage and bike racks to promote alternative means of transportation.

In keeping with the transportation theme, Gerber said in the lobby a transit schedule will be provided via a television screen.

Also, the U.S. Green Building Council for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) stated support for the project through a letter submitted to the city, according to Gerber.

“It started with looking at the architecture of the Village and in Carlsbad in general,” Gerber said. “We hear a lot about that quaint, beachy character and craftsman style. It was designed to pay homage … and bring a fresh appeal. We’ve done a lot of work with the community.”

However, 16-year Carlsbad resident Michael Curtiss said the project doesn’t fit the tradition of the Village. He questioned the parking numbers, which could burden the neighborhood due to more than one car per apartment.

He added the feel of the Village is being eaten away “little by little,” and the constant changing and encroachment of the Village is discouraging.

“My first thought was they are tearing down Denny’s,” Curtiss said. “It’s such a massive project right there at the beginning of the city. Instead of having something more low key and welcoming, people coming off I-5, there is a massive project.”

Gerber said one vision includes a future project connecting Grand Avenue under I-5 to the eastern part of the city.

The project proposes to include an irrevocable offer to dedicate, which would allow the city to claim the land needed on Grand Avenue to begin work with other entities to create an underpass.

Also, the project would extend the sidewalk on Carlsbad Village Drive, while the entrance to the shops and apartments would be moved 100 to 200 feet down the road to avoid a backlog from the I-5 off-ramp.

“That came out of the result of the planning process,” Gerber said of working with the city.

Geber’s efforts have also led to at least 14 letters of support, including the U.S. Green Building Council San Diego Chapter. One letter, though, came from Jessica Neisler, who recently moved to Phoenix, Ariz., saying she had little choice in the move, as Carlsbad does not offer enough affordable housing for her to raise her family.

“After years of rent hikes we were unable to afford an apartment that fit our soon to be four-person family in San Diego County; not to mention Carlsbad was just too far out of reach,” her letter read. “Case in point, we need more housing to be built in Carlsbad, especially those that offer affordable apartments like this project is offering.”


Dan November 14, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Urban blight? That is defined as the deterioration and decay of buildings and older areas of large cities, due to neglect, crime, or lack of economic support. The existing property in question is indicative of an urban blight condition. The proposed new development would be the furthest thing from.

Don November 7, 2016 at 10:13 am

Yes, it stinks. And people like Cori intend to air out and deodorize City Hall. Your contributions to Wood and Blackburn make it clear that you enjoy the bad odors emanating from 1200 CVD and your support for yet another developer also makes clear where you stand. Thanks for being so transparent for all of us.

Douglas Taylor November 4, 2016 at 10:06 pm

A four story apartment building just 50ft from the freeway? Sounds like guaranteed urban blight to me. And why the density increase? The master plan is the master plan — stick to it. When is the city council going to get the message that we don’t want massive projects like this intruding into Carlsbad? This project is not in keeping with our beloved Carlsbad Village, period.

And why does this article read like a brochure from the developer? Here’s an example: “The architecture would resonate with the Village’s “beachy” feel along with amenities such as a 174-space parking garage…” Say what? A 106 unit, four-story apartment building has a “beachy” feel? A 174-space parking garge really sounds “beachy” to me. Come on, Coast News, let’s have some objective, balanced reporting.

It’s time to clean up our City Council — something just does not smell right here.

Nicole November 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm

I’ve been a Carlsbad resident for 16 years. This project sounds good to me. I like that the builder wants high-density housing and will offer units to lower income people. It is wonderful that he is interested in public transportation but is realistic about parking spaces. I think bungalows would be cuter but they wouldn’t be as practical. I also like the fact that this isn’t just another medical office suite or business complex that will remain empty. We have enough emtpty office buildings in Carlsbad. I voted against the Caruso mall. But I think this project sounds good.

Nicole November 3, 2016 at 8:48 am

I’m a 16-year Carlsbad resident and I agree the Denny’s corner of Carlsbad is a little seedy. Also, there are Denny’s restaurants 10 minutes, north and south. I voted against the Caruso mall project, but I see mixed use projects such as the proposed one as a good thing. Sure, the dwellings are likely to be expensive (except for the 16 lower income units), but at least they aren’t McMansions. I love the focus on public transportation but I also think it is realistic to offer enough parking spaces. Even if people love to bike and take the Breeze and the Coaster, they still have guests over and they may still need two cars. A development of little bungalows would be cuter, but it wouldn’t be as high density nor as profitable, unfortunately. I’m just glad it isn’t yet another medical office park or simply more bland office space that will sit empty forever. We have enough of that in Carlsbad. If this project goes through, I hope they can fill it with tenants and businesses.

Dan Weis November 3, 2016 at 7:48 am

Don if you ever want to know more about my business, past projects and client base which includes both local/national-level conservancies and Federal agencies tasked with conserving and creating open space, I would be glad to share such information with you. I think the Caruso fiasco (yes I agree it was a fiasco) has limited trust among citizens in our City and that stinks.

Don November 3, 2016 at 7:35 am

You just admitted that you have a vested interest. You make money from developers. End of story. Developers need approval from politicians for their projects. They donate money to their campaigns.. Call it whatever you like, but people are sick of it. End of story. Vote for whomever you please. We will do the same. May the better, less corrupt person win. Many of us feel that Cori should have a seat on council and that ALL the incumbents have done a horrible job. God knows they’ve given us plenty of reasons for thinking so in addition to the Caruso mall. We are watching and paying attention to everything including who donates how much to whom; no need to ask why. We already know why.

Dan Weis November 2, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Don, all I said was that you should ask him directly about who and why he contributes in local politics instead of trying to smear him by saying he “greases” politicians. You are also out of line by stating that I have a vested interest in the project. Evan is my friend and he retains me for consulting services on as-needed basis. Most of the time he doesn’t need my assistance. I contributed $150 to both Keith and Lorraine yes, because I believe they have done a fine job in our City during their term. Good for you that you donated to Cori. I think that is awesome and I personally believe she is a very solid candidate and the best out of of the non-incumbents.

Matt November 2, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Why even propose a plan that exceeds the current density law by so much, unless you’re sure you’ve bought support from government.

Ask Oceanside about needed parking density per apartment. They’re having lots of problems.

Addie November 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm
Don November 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Obviously you have a vested interest in trying to defend this guy. Why not let people decide for themselves if his actions are questionable or not? We’ve seen enough of people using money to influence decisions made about projects here in Carlsbad. And, by the way, how about the money YOU donated to both Blackburn and Wood? I donated to Cori and I know she will not take money from people like Gerber (in fact, she returned it) simply because of the mere appearance of a conflict of interest. Too bad other elected officials never saw a dollar they didn’t like (and never saw a development they wouldn’t approve as long as the developer contributed to his or her campaign). Cori will represent the people of Carlsbad and will be fair and honest. Too bad we can’t say the same about our current Mayor and City Council.

Dan Weis November 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Don. I am a personal friend of Evan and also his environmental consultant on the various projects in which he is involved. The guy is rock solid, is a San Diego native and loves North County and our City. He contributes to many folks in local politics even in areas where there is no development interest. You should ask him directly why he chose to contribute to multiple folks running for City Council in Carlsbad. I am sure he would give you a candid and honest answer.

Pat Amador November 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

So anyone who received a donation must recuse themselves from voting on the project!

Don November 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm

This would explain why Gerber kept making campaign donations to EVERYONE. Notice that Cori Schumacher RETURNED the donation. Did anyone else? If you want anything built in Carlsbad, just grease the local politicians. This has become the norm here and this is why we need to DRAIN THE SWAMP!

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