Mayor Desmond Pressures San Elijo Hills Development Company on San Elijo Hills Town Center Development
Council member Chris Orlando invited HomeFed/San Elijo Hills Development Company to give an update on the status of the undeveloped portions of the San Elijo Hills Town Center. Paul Borden, President of HomeFed spoke before City Council on Tuesday evening. You can watch his recorded presentation here about 15 mins into the agenda. Here are our efforts to summarize the presentation and the exchange with The Mayor and Council Members.
Paul Borden started with some history. San Elijo Hills Development started developing San Elijo Hills in 1998. The Town Center was started in 1999. Albertsons was built in 2007, and the MarketWalk shops were completed in 2009. In 2011 and 2012, Chase Bank and Pacific Preschool purchased land and developed the respective buildings. Paul stated the remaining portions have been HomeFed’s “Achilles’ heel”.
Borden explained that HomeFed has looked at various mixes of retail, medical, office, live/work units. HomeFed has worked with two different agencies to secure a developer or builder. Borden spoke about the slowdown in retail and his resistance to bringing a big national chain. Borden spoke of his patience and support of the current retail and the San Elijo Hills Development Company marketing campaigns to encourage residents to shop locally.
Borden briefly mentioned that he has two developers/builders that are interested in developing the parcels and HomeFed is now in negotiations with those perspective developers/builders. He did not give specifics.
Mayor Desmond asked what is the status of completing the entire development of San Elijo Hills? Borden responded with the fact that there are roughly 3,300 approved units/homes with 150 units/homes left to build-out. Borden estimated they are 85% to 95% complete with San Elijo Hills. Mayor Desmond responded “The time is now to build out the Town Center. People have bought into the dream.” Borden responded: the residents of San Elijo Hills are our biggest supporters and they have purchased multiple homes in our community and sold homes to friends etc. Mayor Desmond responded with “Get it going, get it done.”
Borden explained this is a project of pride for HomeFed and they would like to keep the standards high and they did receive the feedback from the residents who were not looking for 40 more residential units in the Town Center. HomeFed just could do the “Just build it and they will come concept”.
HomeFed did not volunteer any specifics on the two negotiations they are engaged in. Council Member Jabara pressed this issue and Borden responded with: they’re looking at a mix of residential and retail and no longer interested in building the approved parking structure. It sounded like they are looking at 9-12 row homes and up to 13,000 SQF of retail but Borden said the retail will not work. HomeFed would like to keep the quality of spaces and construction on par with the rest of San Elijo Hills.
Council Member Orlando stated “I’ve been involved in this project for a very long time, but we now have roofs and we now have traffic it’s been 14 months since your last plan was presented in a San Elijo Hills community forum and you’ve been silent with the public and residents”.
“Residents have seen significant retail go up around them. They ask how are they able to get that done?” Council Member Orlando felt the shops are doing well and it’s time to talk about “what is next”.
Borden again stated he was not supportive in placing a national brand and he was going to work with The City and possibly scale back their current entitlements. Borden stated he was willing to meet with The City. Council Member Orlando encouraged them to be receptive to more community input.
At this point the tension escalated the mayor said “Same old song and dance. Same story waiting for the perfect time, you guys made a lot of money in San Elijo Hills, you are still going to have ups and downs but I’m very frustrated. I will not vote to approve anymore parcel maps for San Elijo Hills residential units.” Borden responded “That is not helpful. I did not come here to get into an argument with Council”.
Council member Jabara stated you are 85% to 95% built-out, the roads are impacted, the schools are impacted, residents see large new anchor tenants nearby in La costa and they are frustrated. Borden said we hear you, maybe we need to scale back maybe we need to be more flexible, we just can’t build retail and have it sit vacant.
Mayor Desmond removed item 8 from the Council consent calendar, this was a final map approval for tentative subdivision map for Phase 5 units 8 and 9 (48 Lots) of San Elijo Hills near Double Peak park and the water tower.
Listen to the video recording of the meeting here the Town Center discussion starts at 15 mins: http://www.san-marcos.net/index.aspx?page=34