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Oceanside, nearing 90 percent build-out, turns to vertical mixed-use development

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The city of Oceanside may be 90 percent built out, but Jane McVey, the city's development and redevelopment director, is intent on maximizing the use of the remaining land.

"We're expanding vertical mixed-use. We have more than 4,000 housing units in the pipeline," McVey said, adding that condominiums and row homes will make up about 1,000 units of that total.

Downtown Oceanside also has begun embracing live/work lofts and mixed-use developments with retail on the ground floors, and sometimes both offices and residences on the upper floors.

These mixed-use developments include the Belvedere, a 117-unit development with 26,280 square feet of ground-floor retail; and the 38-unit Oceanside Terraces development with a small office component along with ground-floor retail.

Mixed-use is also the plan for the five blocks Citymark owns that straddle a rail line. Though plans could change, currently they call for 220 residential units, slightly more than 50,000 square feet ground-floor retail/restaurant space and a possible hotel.

Oceanside at the Pier is under construction with completion planned for late summer or early fall in 2007. The project includes 130 condominium-style timeshare units, 32 hotel rooms, a restaurant, more than 9,000 feet of commercial space and two levels of underground parking.

The most anticipated project in downtown Oceanside is the planned Westin Resort with 289 hotel rooms, 48 fractional timeshare units and 47 boutique hotel rooms. The city expect to receive plans Friday afternoon.

"I'm hoping this will be up by the vernal (spring) equinox in 2010," McVey said.

McVey recalled that when she arrived in Oceanside nine years ago it was still possible to buy industrial land for $3.29 per square foot. Today, the remaining parcels of Ocean Ranch are being marketed for $25 per square foot.

McVey, who noted that the city has made a concerted effort to redevelop some of its older industrial zones, suggested that because the municipality is about 90 percent built out, it is necessary to reclaim the land from older uses.

One of these sites is the former Oceanside Drive In, which shut down many years ago. Thomas Enterprises of Newnan, Ga., is planning 880,000 square feet of retail development that McVey said will be divided into three components: big-box users, a medium-sized store and lifestyle shops. The development also will include a 60,000-square-foot health club and a 136-room hotel.

McVey said dividing retail uses will be more pleasing architecturally and more practical from a marketing standpoint.

"You cannot tenant 880,000 square feet of little shops," McVey said, adding, "You have to plan a proper tenant mix."

The environmental work on the project is expected to get under way in mid-November.

Plans for the 400-acre El Corazon project on an old sand mining site at El Camino Real and Oceanside Boulevard call for a pair of 100- to 125-room hotels, a senior center, 45 to 60 acres for retail, and large active and passive recreation areas. The scoping meeting for that project was completed last month; and work on the environmental impact report is under way.

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