SAN MARCOS —A large mixed-used development that proponents see potentially as the North County equivalent of San Diego’s Liberty Station neighborhood took a big step forward this month.
North City, an apartment-centric community just north of Cal State San Marcos, celebrated the grand opening of a massive restaurant/entertainment complex, Urge Gastropub and Common House.
The 21,000-square-foot restaurant, brewery and bowling alley has arisen from the shell of a former warehouse just east of the Block C Apartments, providing the anchor for the current phase of the project, which includes the recently opened apartments and The Quad, a student-oriented apartment project that was the first piece of North City to open in 2014.
City officials hailed the opening and the progress of North City, a critical component of the city’s future look and feel.
“The area is starting to become the dynamic, active area the city hoped it would be, which benefits everyone — residents, businesses and visitors,” City Manager Jack Griffin said. “It is always exciting to see a new business call San Marcos home. Urge is the kind of use we hoped for in that area and complements existing retail and dining options in the city.”
Gary Levitt, a member of the development firm behind North City, Seabreeze Properties LLC, said that he’s pleased with North City’s progress and said that Urge ties the current phase together.
“We’re trying to create a place worth driving off the freeway to dine and have entertainment,” Levitt said. “We don’t have many of those places between Rancho Bernardo and Oceanside.
“We also wanted to create a livable place where you can live, work, raise a family, where you can park your car and leave it for the weekend and still do everything, and we think we are on our way to doing that,” Levitt said.
Levitt said one of the most impressive features of the current project is the fact that Block C, which is market-rate apartments, is more than 60 percent occupied, which he finds validating.
“It shows that people like living in this type of building, if you have great architecture and create places with great design, people will follow,” he said.
The next phase of the project, which is already under construction, is the Pima Medical Institute building, which signed a 15-year lease to occupy 40,000 square feet of the building being built north of the Block C and visible from state Route 78.
Block K, another high-density apartment complex is in the building plan check phase.
Following those developments, Levitt said, are ambitious plans for the area immediately west of The Quad, which include a future Cal State San Marcos Administrative and classroom building, and potentially other retail, hotel and office spaces surrounding it.
Levitt said that while in parts of North County, a project like North City might not be compatible, but he calls the area surrounding Cal State San Marcos ideal for denser, mixed-use model that has failed elsewhere.
“I pose the question, ‘If not here, where,’” Levitt said.