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A rendering of the planned Capalina Apartments project at Capalina Road and West Mission Road in San Marcos, viewed from Mission Road. Courtesy 
A rendering of the planned Capalina Apartments project at Capalina Road and West Mission Road in San Marcos, viewed from Mission Road. Courtesy 
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San Marcos council approves 119-unit Capalina Apartments

SAN MARCOS — A 119-unit apartment project will move forward on a vacant piece of land between Capalina and Mission roads after receiving the green light from the San Marcos City Council this week. 

The City Council unanimously approved the Capalina Apartments project at its March 26 meeting, along with a requested rezone allowing residential and commercial uses on the 2.5-acre site. The project also earned Planning Commission approval in February. 

The project proposes two four-story buildings comprising studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Six units, varying in size, will be deed-restricted for very-low-income households or those making less than 50% of the area median income. 

City leaders said they were pleased to see the long-vacant plot of land be used for needed housing. A mobile home park and various commercial buildings surround it, including the now-demolished Mission Plaza Shopping Center and a liquor store.

“It’s been sitting there a long time, since our city incorporated,” said Mayor Rebecca Jones. “It is good to see the transformation I think it will make in that part of the community.” 

Project applicant Ambient Communities has been behind several commercial projects in San Elijo Hills, including the San Elijo Town Center, Marketwalk and Parkview developments. 

Ambient Communities principal Robert Honer said the Capalina Road site is much more suited to residential use.

“There’s an increased vacancy in this part for the commercial that’s there, and it just wouldn’t pencil for construction costs versus the rents you can get in this location,” Honer said. “It was natural, as we looked at this, to pursue this rezone, really for the highest and best use to help with the housing shortage.” 

The project includes 4,000 square feet of resident amenities, referred to as “commercial” space, including a leasing office, fitness center, co-working space, and mail room. 

Due to its inclusion of affordable units, the project was granted a density bonus, allowing around 47 dwelling units per acre. The applicant was also granted a concession allowing a reduction in onsite parking from the required 159 spaces to 147 spaces, with two electric vehicle charging spaces.

Vehicles can access the apartments via two driveways on Capalina Road but cannot enter or exit the site from Mission Road. 

Capalina Apartments will be located across the street from a bus stop on Mission Road and within a half-mile of the Sprinter light rail stop at Palomar College. The site is also just south of the Inland Rail Trail, with access available via Pacific Street.

Councilmember María Nuñez said she appreciated the project’s proximity to transit.

“It’s a great site, and I think a lot of families will enjoy moving into that area,” Nuñez said. 

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