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La Costa Town Square about to emerge

Construction is set to begin early next year on an 83-acre mixed-use development that will transform the junction of Rancho Santa Fe Road and La Costa Avenue from dirt into a walkable Carlsbad neighborhood.

The master-planned La Costa Town Square project by Pleasanton, Calif.-based Property Development Centers — a wholly owned subsidiary of Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) — calls for 270,000 feet of retail anchored by a 60,000-square-foot Vons grocery store.

The remaining 40 tenants have yet to be revealed, but are expected to range from coffeehouses to fitness clubs and cleaners to an array of upscale boutique shops, as the retail portion begins to emerge. Construction of the retail portion is slated for July 2014.

Smith Consulting Architects is designing La Costa Town Square. Tilton Pacific Construction of San Jose is the general contractor.

The 37.29-acre shopping center portion also has multiple pads where single-tenant users, such as financial institutions or restaurants, might wish to make their home.

Steve Avoyer and Bill Thaxton, of Flocke & Avoyer Commercial Real Estate, are the exclusive leasing agents for the shopping center.

The site currently has more than 38,300 cars going by on Rancho Santa Fe Road and more than 6,700 cars passing the site on La Costa Avenue.

At buildout the property is projected to have 53,800 average daily trips.

“This is a very busy intersection, and there has been a lot of tenant interest,” Thaxton said.

Charles Eadie, a principal associate with the Hamilton Swift & Associates land planning firm in Santa Cruz, related that Flocke & Avoyer and Property Development are negotiating with four or five prospective anchor tenants.

“Once the other anchor tenants are determined then other tenant possibilities will follow,” Eadie said, adding that most if not all the anchors should be named within the next four or five months.

Those driving by the site tend to be more affluent than most other parts of the county.

A Flocke & Avoyer flier about the property said the average household income within two miles of the development is $145,224.

The property will also benefit from the estimated 71,000 people who live within three miles of the site. The average household income within that radius was $139,954 at the time of a survey earlier this year.

Property Development, which could not be reached for this story, bought the entire 83-acre site for $38 million in January.

The land was acquired from a partnership controlled by local investor Deepak Israni of Pacifica Cos. at that time. Pacifica is the master developer of the Chula Vista Bayfront Plan.

Construction on the center is slated to begin the middle of next year with completion about a year later.

In mid-December, a unit of Del Mar-based Davidson Communities paid $14.16 million for a 22.39-acre portion of the planned 83-acre mixed-use development.

The developer is planning 63 upscale single-family homes at that location.

Bill Davidson, president of Davidson Communities, who has built upscale and standard market-rate housing for decades, said plans are still in flux but he expects the homes will range from about 3,500 to 4,000 square feet in four- to six-bedroom configurations.

The homes, which will start at about $1 million, will be situated on minimum 7,000-square-foot lots.

“We’ll have a lot of flexibility with the homes sizes,” Davidson said.

Davidson said it should take about five months to fine-grade the lots, with models possibly ready before the end of next year, before adding that a January 2014 grand opening might be more likely.

The homebuilder added that he really likes that residents will be easy walking distance from the shopping center.

While a large multifamily development had been planned for a 7.67-acre triangle-shaped parcel along the northern part of Rancho Santa Fe Road, David Santistevan -- a Colliers International senior vice president who represented Property Development Centers on the Davidson transaction -- said the plans have been changed to include 36 single-family lots.

Davidson, who had been interested in this parcel as well, said Taylor Morrison Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., is expected to develop that portion of the Town Square property, but the builder declined comment about its plans.

As the master plan is currently configured, there is a 21,000-square-foot, two-story office building planned southwest of the main part of the center; a 34,500-square-foot, two-story office building just south of the Vons; and an as-yet indeterminate amount of office development east of the 21,000-square-foot building. It also wasn’t clear at press time just which firm might construct this office space.

The remaining acreage is largely taken up by planned internal roads and extensive landscaping.

Property Development is a shopping center development firm specializing in grocery-anchored and open-air retail shopping centers. PDC is currently active in building dozens of centers from Washington, D.C., to Hawaii.

Davidson Communities has built more than 40 single- and multifamily projects in the western United States since its founding in 1978. The Del Mar builder has developed more than 5,000 residential units since that time.

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