CARLSBAD — A 106-unit apartment complex and commercial building got the green light from the Planning Commission on Jan. 4.
The Carlsbad Village Lofts, which is proposed to sit on the partially vacant lot on Carlsbad Village Drive and just west of Interstate 5, is the plan from Evan Gerber of the San Diego-based Gerber Group.
Gerber said the project is expected to be placed on the City Council agenda in late February. The commission approved the project 4-1 with Velyn Anderson dissenting.
“I’m not doing a touchdown dance,” Gerber said. “We are very much still interested in meeting with folks. It’s a long process and it’s worked.”
The Denny’s will be demolished and relocated to make room for 106 apartments in a four-story building with a commercial component on the south end of the project off Carlsbad Village Drive. The proposed building will run north to Grand Avenue.
The Motel 6, meanwhile, will remain open during and after construction.
The 2.23-acre site will come with amenities such as a 174-space subterranean parking garage, rooftop garden with gathering areas for barbecues and yoga and retail space totaling 9,659-sqaure feet.
The Planning Commission, though, said some changes are needed. Gerber said those include electric vehicle charging stations, rooftop solar panels for water heating and redesign of loading areas for the retail spaces.
“They requested we formally agree to, which was our intent all along, electric car charging stations and solar panels,” Gerber explained. “What we originally drew in 2014 and changed in 2015 … was a completely different project. I’m just keeping the course and hoping for a positive outcome.”
There will be also an access road between I-5 and the building reserved for first responders and walkers. No public access for vehicles will be allowed.
Gerber has been conducting outreach for months holding meetings, attending other functions and walking door-to-door to discuss his plan. Of course, not all who come across the proposal support it, he said, but Gerber said most appear in favor.
Also, he has worked with environmentalist Diane Nygaard on some aspects of the project.
“Delivering a project that touches on the things that we are trying to do,” Gerber said, “which is produce affordable housing next to transit, next to amenities but also in a way that’s consistent with existing zoning.”
Resident Robert Wilkinson said he appreciates the work and transparency from Gerber throughout the process. Wilkinson said the architecture, amenities and affordable housing units are some of the reasons why he supports the plan.
“I think it’s a great project,” he added. “I appreciate the applicant tackling a site that’s had some difficulties to it. This is step above of what you’ve gotten in the past.”
Resident Christine Wright said her concerns are with people living next to the freeway, saying it is not an ideal spot for residential. She also voiced frustration with why developers who “always” use the maximum height.
“Why not have as many stories if we are going to have the elevator that tall,” she asked. “I don’t want to see our Village turned into an urban development.”