SAN MARCOS — A 119-unit apartment project proposed for a long-vacant piece of land off Capalina Road earned the unanimous recommendation of the city’s Planning Commission this week and will now go to the City Council for approval.
The Capalina Apartments project is planned for a 2.5-acre site between Capalina and West Mission roads. Six units will be deed-restricted for very low-income households or those making less than 50% of the area’s median income.
At the Planning Commission’s Feb. 5 meeting, applicant John Rilling requested that the site zoning be altered from mixed-use 3 to mixed-use 2, allowing for residential and commercial development. He claimed housing would better serve the site than a purely commercial development.
“This is a prime residential location near job centers, educational hubs and transit,” Rilling said. “I’m very confident that we will deliver a wonderful project.”
Commissioners called the infill site an “awkward” piece of land but largely agreed that housing would be a practical use. The site is bordered by various commercial uses, including the demolished Mission Plaza Shopping Center to the west and a mobile home park.
“I’ve been driving by this site for close to 50 years. It has been relatively unchanged. I think this is a really nice opportunity to make a change in that area, and provide absolutely necessary housing,” said Commissioner Steve Kildew.
Along with a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units spread between two four-story buildings, the Capalina development proposes 7,500 feet of outdoor recreation space with picnic areas, barbeque pits and a playground.
The application also described plans for 4,000 square feet of commercial space, including a leasing office, fitness center, co-working space and mail room.
Commissioner Eric Flodine said while he supported the project, he was not convinced by using the word “commercial” for what appeared to be amenities for residents.
Rilling conceded that this was accurate, stating that there have been many failing commercial spaces in the city, and they wanted the project to be successful.
“The approach was to incorporate commercial as an amenity and make it a great amenity for the residents of the apartment building,” Rilling said.
Due to the inclusion of deed-restricted affordable units, the project was granted a density bonus, allowing around 47 dwelling units per acre. The applicant was also incentivized to reduce the onsite parking from the required 159 spaces to 147 spaces, with two electric vehicle charging spaces.
Drivers will only be able to access the complex via Capalina Drive. However, pedestrians can enter the complex from West Mission Road via a sidewalk connection.
A hearing date for the project to go before the City Council has yet to be confirmed.