CARLSBAD — There is no shortage of redevelopment taking place in Carlsbad Village.
And for many small businesses and residents, fear permeates as the lively center undergoes a facelift.
Numerous four-story, mixed-use buildings are revamping the landscape as construction booms. For Greg “Viz” Visintainer and two of his neighbors, December marks the final full month of business as they must vacate their spaces on the corner of Grand Avenue and State Street next month. Visintainer owns the popular Viz Art Gallery, which opened seven years ago, while others residing in the building include Guy Stuff and Lavender Blu.
“There’s a lot of things in my life I need to step up on,” Visintainer said. “I always knew the building could sell. It’s going to be good and bad… but it’s time for the next chapter and see what else I can do.”
Visintainer said there has been big money spent on purchasing a number of buildings throughout the Village. He said the owners of Barrel Republic bought the building where his store resides and expects it to be a restaurant.
Other purchases include Mas Fina Cantina and Hennessey’s Tavern along State and Roosevelt streets. One plan calls for the demolition of Cantina, Hennessey’s and others around the old Carlsbad Antique Mall (the mall is a separate project) and construction of 79 high-end condos with a new restaurant where Cantina sits. It also includes another mixed-use building with space for three business along Roosevelt in place of Hennessey’s, Karlsbad Realty and a commercial building on the corner of Roosevelt Street and Beech Avenue.
Dubbed Carlsbad Station, the project calls for units with one to three bedrooms, retail spaces between 1,500 and 4,300 square feet for a total 140,746 square feet. In addition, 105 parking spaces will be available for the three-story project.
Plans for the Carlsbad Antique Mall call for renovating the three buildings for workspaces and a restaurant.
Currently, there are numerous projects on South State Street, Grand Avenue and elsewhere altering the skyline.
“We’ve seen so much going on,” Visintainer said. “There is construction everywhere. They have their agenda and their plan. It depends on how you look at it. The people who’ve been here for a while want to keep it quaint, that small charm. I don’t see Carlsbad doing that. Five years from now, you’re not going to recognize downtown Carlsbad.”
For Visintainer, though, the change is both good and bad. It allows him to move forward with other projects (he also does contract work with Disney), but he sees the sweeping changes with four-story buildings and the Orange County feel like a negative for the Village.
Visintainer said his building must be torn down as it was built in the 1950s and a renovation job would not fully meet current state codes.
However, he has found a home for some of his artist’s work next door at Ampersand. Annette Thomas opened her store four-and-a-half years ago.
While she was happy to include some of the art in her home environment store, she, too, has concerns about the evolution of the Village. Thomas, whose building is separate and not up for sale currently, said what once was forgotten has now become a bustling center full of vibrant, unique shops and restaurants.
However, she said the area must change, but the city must keep a watchful eye on what projects are approved, along with how it will impact parking and the quality of life for those who work and live in the Village.
“When I walked down State Street, my heart skipped a beat,” Thomas said of her search for a location. “I feel it’s on a good trend if they keep an eye on how big it gets. I just don’t like the tearing of everything down and building three-stories high and squeezing out the little guy.”