Construction is expected to begin next year on 70 townhomes and about 3,000 square feet of commercial space in Oceanside’s 465-acre El Corazon property, a city official said Thursday.
Park Villas will be built by Shopoff Realty Investments on the eastern side of El Corazon, north of the city’s new Senior Center, along an entry road to be built from Rancho Del Oro Drive. The Oceanside City Council approved the project a year ago.
The mixed-use project is one of several developments in various planning stages for the site, which for 60 years was a sand mine supplying industries and construction sites across the Southwest.
Long-term plans also call for more homes, a hotel and an 8,000-seat sports arena, former City Manager Peter Weiss, now a consultant for the city, told a committee Thursday in an update on El Corazon efforts.
Some Oceanside residents have said the El Corazon property should not include housing, and instead should focus on recreation, open space and habitat preservation. However, a compromise was reached to include some industrial, commercial and residential uses that will provide tax revenue to cover the costs of restoring and maintaining the property.
Still, the city needs to be careful about the developments it approves, Diane Nygaard, a member of Friends of El Corazon, said Thursday.
“We don’t have a lot of places to put economic drivers for our community,” Nygaard said.
One of the last and most obvious signs of the former sand operations on the property is a deep pit filled with groundwater near the corner of Oceanside Boulevard and El Camino Real. Nearby a dirt road winds up the hillside to the green waste composting site that the contractor Agri Service has operated since 1995, a year after the city acquired the property.
Another contractor, Moody’s Reclamation, recycles asphalt, concrete and rock construction materials on the property for re-use in new construction and as fill material.
One of the most anticipated projects, an aquatics center, remains on hold.
The Oceanside Planning Commission approved basic design plans last year for an Olympic-sized competition pool, an instructional pool, a children’s water-play area and other facilities.
The city has about half of the $14 million to $16 million it needs to build the aquatics center, which would have the city’s first new swimming pools in more than 50 years. However, earlier this year the City Council voted against issuing bonds for the remainder of the construction money, along with funding for other projects, because of questions about how to cover the annual $1 million in maintenance costs.
A new proposal for funding the aquatics center will be presented as part of next year’s capital improvement budget, Weiss said.
Another project that appears to be on hold for El Corazon is the professional soccer stadium idea announced at a news conference in October.
Representatives of San Diego 1904 FC, a newly formed pro soccer club, said they intended to build a 10,000-seat stadium at El Corazon in time to open for the 2019 season.
However, Weiss said, so far the city has seen no application from the soccer club. Also, the club’s status remains in question as a possible expansion team with the second-division North American Soccer League.
Still, plenty of competitive soccer is being played at El Corazon. The SoCal Sports Complex that opened in late 2014 has 22 fields used for soccer and lacrosse. Amateur teams from throughout the Southwest compete in tournaments most weekends throughout the long soccer season.
The busiest recreational facility on the property is the Senior Center that opened in 2009. Covering about six acres, it provides popular services including a nutrition program, fitness and educational classes, bingo and other services for older adults.