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ZEPHYR FILES PLAN FOR WAVE RESORT, HOMES, RETAIL ON FORMER DRIVE-IN SITE

BY PHIL DIEHL

Sep 09, 2019

OCEANSIDE — Encinitas-based developer Zephyr Partners has filed plans for up to 700 homes, a 300-room hotel, retail stores, offices and more to be built around an artificial wave lagoon on 92 acres formerly home to the Oceanside drive-in theater and swap meet.

A climbing wall, stand-up paddle-board pool and trails for hiking and biking are part of the plan. Retailers such as surfboard shops, bicycle stores and purveyors of outdoor gear and clothing would be sought to complement the activities.“It’s a fully integrated resort community centered on living life to its fullest,” Zephyr Chief Operating Officer Chris Beucler said Thursday.

Zephyr unveiled the idea of building its development around a surfable wave lagoon in a June community meeting at an Oceanside elementary school, where many of the residents expressed enthusiasm for the plan. At the time there were not details about the homes or hotel.
The property is just east of the city’s airport along the San Luis Rey River, north of state Route 76 and Mission Avenue, and a few blocks west of El Camino Real.

A previous developer received approval from the city in 2008 to build a shopping center on the property with mostly fast-food restaurants, a movie theater and big-box retail stores such as Costco or Walmart. No residential construction was included.

That idea, called The Pavilion, never got off the ground, and Zephyr bought the property a year ago.

A formal application filed Thursday at Oceanside City Hall offers the first detailed look at Zephyr’s project. Grading began weeks ago and continued Friday, with tons of fill material, about 460,000 cubic yards, being imported to raise lower portions of the site above the San Luis Rey River flood plain to ensure proper drainage.

Zephyr officials said at the June meeting that shopping centers such as the proposed Pavilion are outmoded and unlikely to succeed, and that today’s brick-and-mortar retailers need to give shoppers an experience that will keep them coming back.

Traffic was one of the few concerns raised by residents at the meeting.

Environmental documents filed with the city show the project would create 19,118 daily vehicle trips after development.

Some residents also have said the large number of homes and hotel rooms would bring a drain on city services, and that industrial development would bring more jobs and less traffic to an already congested part of town.

“The impacts are enormous, and current taxpayers will take the bite for that to pay for infrastructure for years and years to come,” said Nadine Scott, a longtime Oceanside resident and activist.

“The part that bothers me most is putting 700 homes in the flight path (of the nearby airport),” said Carolyn Krammer, another longtime resident. Also, she said, a successful wave pool could attract surfers from far outside the city and significantly boost the development’s traffic.

Buildings have a 50-foot height limit within the development because of its proximity to the airport.

Beucler said the project will employee 1,300 people when complete and will be a significant source of sales, property and room tax revenue for the city.

Those benefits have long been attractive to Oceanside’s elected officials, and the city as seen a building boom in recent years.

Zephyr’s application could be approved by the city’s Planning Commission under the existing zoning on the property and would not go to the City Council except on appeal. No date has been set for the hearing.
Plans call for the hotel, a conference center, 100,000 square feet of retail stores and restaurants, 20,000 square feet of office space, the wave lagoon, rock climbing walls, bike trails, fitness center, yoga pavilion, a spa and other commercial aspects of the project to be completed along with the first 200 residential units. The rest of the homes will be built as the market dictates.

The resort will have four different types of guest rooms, Beucler said. They include a core hotel, private villas, a luxury village and an “Airstream village” modeled after the distinctive polished aluminum recreational vehicles.

Residential units also will be a mixture of types in attached buildings such as town homes, condominiums, rentals and “branded” units linked to the active-lifestyle theme of the development. No unattached, single-family are planned.

“We’re trying to appeal to different users throughout the week,” Beucler said.

The idea is to include attractions for local residents, tourists and groups of travelers, he said. Activities such as the wave lagoon, the climbing will will be designed for everyone from beginners to experts.
About 20 acres of the property will be preserved as open space. The site will include bike trails and pedestrian paths with connections to the nearby San Luis Rey River trail and Alex Road skatepark.
Zephyr’s previous projects are mostly residential. They include Summerhouse, with 35 ocean-view condominiums starting at $1.4 million each on Ocean Street in Carlsbad; Level 15, which is 63 town-homes starting in the low $400,000s in Escondido; and Las Ventanas, 13 four-bedroom homes starting in the mid-$800,000s in Fallbrook.

The company also is building the Solana 101 mixed-use development on Coast Highway in Solana Beach, and is working on approvals for a resort hotel atop 16 acres of coastal bluffs at the northern edge of Del Mar.

In July, Zephyr announced that the Del Mar plan, which formerly called for 251 hotel rooms, 76 privately owned villas, and thousands of square feet of retail space and restaurants, would be scaled back to a 65-room hotel, 31 villas, a spa, walking trails and gardens.

Also, Zephyr and its Del Mar partner, the Robert Green Company, said they intend to gather enough signatures to place a citizens initiative on the ballot next March that could approve the bluff-top development with little of the city’s oversight.

 

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