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McMillin acquires land in north Carlsbad for residential development

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A unit of The Corky McMillin Cos. has paid $7.25 million to acquire 156 acres for a planned 636-unit residential development known as Quarry Creek in Carlsbad.

The property at 3701 Haymar Drive, next to the Oceanside city limits, is close to numerous shopping centers, including Westfield's Plaza Camino Real. The sale appears to be an all-cash transaction.

The property was acquired by McMillin QC2 LLC from Hanson Aggregates Pacific Southwest, whose predecessors had formerly operated a quarry on the property.

These predecessor firms include the Sim J.Harris Co., successor by merger with the South Coast Materials Co.

While a CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CSGP) report lists the project as an apartment development, Brian Milich, McMillin senior vice president, said there will be a mix of housing types that will include apartments as well as small-lot single-family homes.

Plans may be in flux, but McMillin is hoping to get its grading permits during the first half of next year, with the first units beginning to emerge from the ground by late in 2015 or in the first quarter of 2016.

"We have a master plan, but we don't have the specifics yet," Milich said. "This should be our last project in Carlsbad. This is one of the few large projects in Coastal North County."

The Quarry Creek project has not been without controversy.

Following the city of Carlsbad's recent approval of the project, the environmental group Preserve Calavera filed a lawsuit in Superior Court alleging the plan didn't do enough for environmental preservation.

In December 2013 the city, Preserve Calavera and McMillin reached an accord where McMillin agreed to donate a 60-acre parcel known as Village H within the nearby Calavera Hills masterplan at Carlsbad Village Drive and College Boulevard to offset the impacts of Quarry Creek.

Calavera Hills was master planned for about 1,100 residential units. AMcMillin joint venture with Brookfield Homes (NYSE: BHS) built about 485 residential units.

In the end, McMillin agreed to offsite mitigation at Calavera Hills and kept 56 percent of the Quarry Hills property -- which is adjacent to El Salto waterfall -- in permanent open space.

Milich said he likes the location because it is on the Buena Vista Creek, is within the Carlsbad Unified School District, and has easy access to both Orange County and the rest of San Diego County.

Without traffic McMillin said Lindbergh Field may be reached in 40 minutes. The developer said it is about 50-minute drive to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

McMillin also noted the development is also close to stations for the Sprinter and Coaster.

The developer is also agreed last year to offer $2 million toward area traffic improvements to the City of Oceanside, which will also be affected by the project's impacts.

McMillin, along with Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL), is also a principal partner with Brookfield Homes Corp. on the Robertson Ranch property in Carlsbad. That property has been masterplanned for a total of 1,150 residential units.

McMillin's land development company has masterplanned such properties as Liberty Station, where work is still ongoing in Point Loma; Rancho del Rey in Chula Vista, Scripps Ranch Villages and Scripps Ranch North, both in San Diego, and Temeku Hills Golf and Country Club in Temecula.

McMillin is working on a master plan for the Millienia project in Chula Vista.

The 210-acre Millenia development ultimately calls for up to 3,000 residences, about 3.4 million square feet of office, industrial and retail uses, and two hotels. Amenities include schools, parks, bikeways and trails.

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