The Coast News Group
Much of the 465-acre El Corazon site remains undeveloped. A proposal to put in a swim complex will expire in September. File photo by Promise Yee
Much of the 465-acre El Corazon site remains undeveloped. A proposal to put in a swim complex will expire in September. File photo by Promise Yee

Swim complex for El Corazon is a no-go

OCEANSIDE — The proposal by Swimming Hall of Fame to build a swim complex, water park and hotel will be left to expire on Sept. 8 without further consideration.

“We decided to let the agreement lapse,” City Manager Steve Jepsen said.

“Council will consider a hotel out on El Corazon, but not in conjunction with the Swimming Hall of Fame current configuration.”

Jepsen said City Council decided the water park, proposed as a standalone entity, would not be considered unless it was built into the hotel complex.

And the elite pool complex, which started as a selling feature, was also disfavored.

Jepsen said due to the terms of the deal, council decided the city would be better off building its own swimming pool at El Corazon or another location. This decision would give the city unrestricted access to the pool.

The Economic Development Commission did not recommend the Swimming Hall of Fame proposal in August.

Concerns were raised that the proposal did not fit the park master plan, which calls on development to create a gathering space, trails, open space, recreation fields and limited commercial development.

Council met in closed session on Aug. 20, and made the decision to let the proposal expire.

Peter Weiss, city consultant and former city manager, said it is now up to the property developer, Sudberry Properties and the hotel to move forward with negotiations on a hotel.

Sherman Whitmore, developer and advisor to Swimming Hall of Fame, said he is waiting to hear from the city and is confident the hotel is a definite consideration.

“We’re still working with the city,” Whitmore said. “The intent is to go forward with the hotel. The whole thing started with the hotel.”

Whitmore said the inclusion of the swimming complex was an add-on when Swimming Hall of Fame, of Florida, came on board looking for a site to relocate and develop a revenue-producing hotel and water park.

He said the Swimming Hall of Fame proposal provided a balance of development and means to finance it. Facilities were planned to draw tournaments and provide local access.

Whitmore added that he held discussions with Oceanside swim teams, water polo teams and City Council members to assure them there would be pool hours for local teams and the public.

Unfortunately a detailed presentation, including testimonials from partners in the project, was not heard by the commission or council.

Whitmore did not specify when a revised proposal would be submitted, but mentioned further talks with the city may wait until after the November election.

Weiss said the proposed hotel was consistent with park plans that include two hotels on site, and the swimming complex that was rejected would have had ample space for athletic practice and public use.

“A 70-meter pool never fills up,” Weiss said.

He added going forward it will continue to be a matter of opinion as to whether development proposals align with park plans.

“Overall it comes down to who is defining consistent,” Weiss said.

To date, a senior center has been developed and opened and soccer fields have been approved and are being planted as part of the 465-acre acre city park.