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Planned mixed-use development reaches end of the line

SOLANA BEACH — Cedros Crossing, a $72 million mixed-use development slated for North Cedros Avenue between Lomas Santa Fe Drive and Cliff Street, has come to the end of its track. Land owner North County Transit District and developer Shea Properties signed a mutual termination agreement, ending a seven-year relationship to create retail shops, restaurants, boutique office space, 141 housing units and a $19 million underground parking garage that would have added about 120 parking spaces.
Solana Beach Mayor Dave Roberts, who is vice chairman of the NCTD board of directors, said he did not participate in the closed session.
Given the current state of the economy, Roberts said he’s not sure what, if anything, will happen in the near future on the 5.66-acre site. But eventually, he said, he hopes NCTD and the city can collaborate on a project that meets the needs of Solana Beach.
Roberts said a master plan should be created before a new developer is chosen. The goal, he said, is for NCTD and the city to work together so the resulting project is one council will approve.
After being selected as the developer in 2001, Shea was asked to redesign the project five times, including once to add North Coast Repertory Theatre as a tenant and another to take it out. Residents and council members said project plans weren’t compatible with the city’s general plan.
Every project must meet the rules and ordinances of the city or the developer has to request a variance, Roberts said. “Anybody who thinks they don’t have to play by the rules — I think that’s wrong,” he said.
Roberts said while there is a sense of relief on the part of the city, personally he is disappointed. He said he thought the ad hoc committee was making progress, so he didn’t understand why Greg Shannon, vice president of development for Shea, cut off communications and then, on April 28, presented a plan he knew council wouldn’t approve. “I’d love to have an answer to that question some day,” he said.
“Dave knows my phone number,” Shannon said. “He can call me anytime. … Apparently he wasn’t paying attention at the public hearings.”
The fifth redesign request came April 28, about a month before a deadline to submit plans to secure a $6 million grant from the state Department of Transportation that was key funding for the project. At that meeting, Shannon presented plans that had previously been submitted — but denied — in an effort to meet the deadline. Shannon said he would have redesigned the project after the grant was secured.
“I was always up front,” he said. “The council played the delay game. When the grant was lost it didn’t make much sense to go forward.”
When asked about the project’s compatibility with the general plan, Shannon said, “They’re simply wrong.” He also said Shea requested an affordable housing density bonus, but council members did not take action. “A delay is as good as a denial,” he said.
Shannon said he is “extremely disappointed” with the outcome. “Transit-oriented development and smart growth are the kinds of things we should be doing,” especially with global warming and rising gas prices, Shannon said. “Unfortunately, Solana Beach doesn’t feel the same way.”
He said it is “very discouraging” that council members were “neither responsible nor accountable.”