Marja Acres targeted for redevelopment

Marja Acres targeted for redevelopment
An application from New Urban West Inc. is proposing a mixed-used development on Marja Acres on El Camino Real north of Cannon Road.

CARLSBAD — Plans are still being finalized for the latest development project in the city, although several local businesses are disappointed Marja Acres may be sold.

New Urban West, Inc. is preparing to bring before the city a proposal for 32 single-family homes, 151 townhomes, 35 senior apartments and up to 16,000 square feet of retail on 20 acres on El Camino Real south of Kelly Drive and across from Robertson Ranch.

The sale of the land is contingent on approval from the city, NUWI confirmed.

“We will continue to refine the plan with input from the surrounding community that respects the history, charm and character of the property,” NUWI said in a statement. “Providing continuity is an important part of retaining the charm and character of the site and we hope that the current businesses on the property will work with us in the future to remain when the new retail portion of the property is completed. A number of the tenants have already expressed interest and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.”

NUWI has built numerous projects in North County including Harmony Grove in Escondido and is currently attempting to redevelop the Escondido Country Club.

Carlsbad City Planner Teri Delcamp said NUWI submitted the plans at the end of 2016 and after a review by the city, sent the proposal back to the development company to address several concerns. She said revised plans have not been submitted yet.

“We did one review for the project within that first month,” Delcamp said. “We identified a number of issues, concerns and technical details and such that they need to address. They have been working to address those issues from the city.”

Should the City Council approve the plan, NUWI would need the California Coastal Commission to sign off on the proposal. Delcamp said the timeline is about six to nine months to go through reviews before the council decides, then it could be at least another six to nine months before the Coastal Commission makes a decision.

Many of the lessees on the property say they have about two years before they need to move.

“The community and city forged a vision for this property through the Envision Carlsbad process, which concluded a couple of years ago,” according to a statement from NUWI. “Our task is to thoughtfully and creatively bring that vision to fruition. A walkable village concept centered around an urban farm, neighborhood scale shops and restaurants, a dog park along with public gathering spaces for the enjoyment of both the new and existing community has been planned for the site.”

But at least seven businesses lining the property are expected to move out in the next year, pending approval from the City Council. Several have been in business for at least 20 years such as Carrillo Pottery, Hortensia’s Flowers and Bobby’s Hideaway Café. Also included in the small retail center are James Hood Guitar, Country Wine and Spirit, Plant Play Nursery and Oasis Nursery & Landscaping.

James Hood, who commutes from Temecula, said he is disappointed the land will be developed and his store must find a new location. However, he holds no anger toward the property owners, Mike and Marja Selna.

“This is kind of a historic building,” Hood said. “I have a really good relationship with the owners of the property. They (Mike and Marja) are amazing. I don’t see it as their fault at all. That’s the last thing I think of.”

Hood said the couple, who referred questions to NUWI, and other family inherited the property, but no one wanted to keep up with the maintenance and day-to-day operations. Hood said the couple wants to retire and enjoy their sunset years, so they had no other choice but to find a buyer.

“At first, I think I was probably in a little denial,” he said. “I was behind Bobby’s Café, and I moved and that caused a lot of disruption. With this development, in the next 18-24 months, now I’m thinking where am I going to move my repair shop, and I have to notify my customer base.”

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