Mixed-Use Project Sought for Carlsbad Train Station

Updated: Mar 24


Plans include affordable housing, parking structure


By PHIL DIEHL MARCH 21, 2021


CARLSBAD — Transit officials said this week they are looking for a developer to build a mixed-use project with affordable housing at the Carlsbad Village train station.


The 13.89-acre site owned by North County Transit District is an “ideal downtown location” for development and the agency intends to issue a request for proposals, said Tracey Foster, chief development officer for the district.


At present, the Village station near the corner of Grand Avenue and State Street has only a sheltered boarding platform, ticket kiosks, a restroom building, a coffee stand and 435 parking spaces. NCTD is also considering a similar type of development at its Carlsbad Poinsettia station, about four miles to the south, which has 5.81 acres and 341 parking spaces.


Coaster commuter trains and Breeze buses stop at both stations, and Amtrak passenger trains also stop at the Village.


The transit district wants to “maximize” its real estate assets by creating new revenue streams, more parking, housing and other opportunities, Foster said. The Carlsbad plan is consistent with the city’s zoning on the property and with state goals to build more homes near public transit.


A plan to develop the downtown Oceanside Transit Center, which is 10.2 acres, is farther along than the Carlsbad proposal, but on a similar path.


NCTD approved an exclusive negotiating agreement in October with Toll Brothers to build 228 market-rate apartments, 9,325 square feet of retail space, 739 parking spaces, a 44,000-square-foot office building and other structures in Oceanside.


A second phase of construction there calls for a 141-room hotel with more retail space and parking, and a 319-unit apartment building. A third and final phase will add a 101- unit affordable apartment building with parking on the site now occupied by the NCTD headquarters building at 810 S. Mission Avenue, less than a half-mile east of the transit center.


The transit district also has long-term plans to develop its transit center properties in Escondido and Solana Beach. Several plans for the Solana Beach station have been developed but stalled over the years, at times including a restaurant, boutique hotel, retail shops, offices and apartments.


Several Carlsbad council members said they are eager to work with the district on a project.


“It’s very exciting to see a real transit-oriented development,” said Councilwoman Teresa Acosta. She said she was glad the plans include extensive community outreach, so the public will be involved in the process.


Councilwoman Cori Schumacher expressed concerns that Carlsbad could lose some of its train station parking, which is shared with downtown businesses. However, Jeff Ryan, a senior planner for NCTD, said no parking will be lost.


“We are actually increasing the parking in the area,” Ryan said. Details such as the number of homes and parking spaces and the amount of retail space to be built are yet to be worked out and depend, in part, on community discussions and the responses to the district’s request for proposals.


“This is a collaborative relationship,” Ryan said. “Like it or not, we are going to be married at the hip.”


The transit district expects to receive proposals by December and for the board to approve an exclusive negotiating agreement with a developer by February 2022.


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