Oceanside Pier Resort Luxury Hotels Discussed at MainStreet Meeting

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MainStreet Oceanside has a meeting on the first Tuesday of every month which is open to all interested parties in what is going on downtown. This months’ meeting was changed to Wednesday to accommodate a special guest.

Rick Wright, MainStreet Executive Director, introduced Jeremy Cohen, Senior Vice-President of S.D. Malkin, and said “this guy believed in downtown Oceanside when no one else did.” S.D. Malkin, is the company chosen to build the resort – actually a two-hotel complex bisected by Mission Avenue along Pacific Street. Wright said, “he’s pretty confident that downtown Oceanside is ready for a four-star resort,” indicating he might not have been so sure in the beginning.

Jeremy Cohen, Senior Vice-President of S. D. Malkin

“From the start,” Cohen said, he always believed that MainStreet was going to be a partner, helping with a lifestyle and activities and “all things that make Oceanside unique and special.”

“Our goal,” Cohen said, “is to open well in advance of the summer season of 2020. We are shooting for April as a goal with a groundbreaking next April 2018. If it’s a month earlier, that’s great. If it’s a month later, we still can meet our deadline.”

Cohen gave a chronology of the long history of the project. When it started, his third daughter, then 12, said she’d like to get married in the new hotel, she’s now 24 and the hotel is still to come.

Cohen said, “The city called for qualifications of potential developers 13 years ago and for specific proposals a year later. The environmental-impact report was complete and everything was ready to go in 2009 when the great recession hit and lenders wouldn’t even have backed a hotel in Beverly Hills, let alone Oceanside, then in 2011 Gov. Jerry Brown decided to get rid of redevelopment agencies, a tool that was being used to help finance the hotel.”

After that problem was solved, an organization called San Diegans for Open Government sued the project. It’s taken three years, through appellate processes, to get the lawsuit dismissed and be ready to draw up construction plans. In the interim, the project has undergone some changes.

Cohen showed computer drawings of the current plans for the south block: a 226-room “traditionally” styled hotel with a ballroom and a lot of flexible meeting space. Now, he said, “With no ballroom space in town, large groups have to go to Carlsbad for their meetings.”

The north lot is to contain a more-modern-style “boutique” hotel of 158 rooms. Cohen called it “edgier” and said a rooftop bar with ocean views will be open to the public. A row of retail businesses is proposed along Mission on the North lot, and access to the parking will be off Myers Street.

The 500-space garage covers two floors underground on the South side and a floor and a half on the North side. In addition, Cohen said, “Malkin has contributed to parking spaces in another project for a total of 540.”

Mission will be closed for some time for construction of the underground parking and Myers Street probably will become two-way.

David DiPierro, City Traffic Engineer said a proposed railroad quiet zone is tied up with the plans for Myers, and it might be possible to keep a portion of it one-way. But, Di Pierro said he expects the present traffic count of 1,000 cars a day on that street only to double to 2,000.

Restaurants are proposed on both blocks with a “regional celebrity chef” eatery to be located on the South lot. The historic Graves House, featured in the movie “Top Gun,” will be relocated to that site, and Cohen said he is asking the Oceanside Museum of Art to help design the garden area.

Cohen said the hotels are situated like few others where patrons virtually can walk off a train – Metrolink, Amtrak, Coaster or Sprinter, and into the lobby. If people come by train they will eat and shop locally rather than getting into their cars and driving elsewhere.

Answering a question from Tom Frankum, Cohen said “there will be bicycle racks installed because of the growing bicycle community.”

Cohen made a note to consider a further problem raised by Brenda Batali of the number of skateboarders downtown, although their actions are illegal.

“We do have a management agreement with a hotel operator,” Cohen said. He expects to announce who that is soon. It will be one brand family with a separate flag for each hotel. The customer will not know it’s the same corporation, and there will be separate managers each expressing their personality. It’s going to be unique.”

Answering a question from David Nydegger, retired longtime CEO of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Cohen said he expects to announce the hotel brand in the next 30-45 days.

In other business:

–Wright introduced Jan and Dennis Gardner, active years ago with the Oceanside Merchants Association, a predecessor to MainStreet. Jan Gardner later said “it was so nice to see all the people here.” And, to Cohen, she said “Jeremy, thank you for hanging in with us.”

–Deanna Lorson, Assistant City Manager, introduced Jonathan Borrego, new Development Services Director in charge of planning, building and developmental engineering. She said he had worked for the city of Anaheim for 30 years and is excited about Oceanside and its downtown.

–Wright said he really appreciated the great turnout and noted that there were postcards on all the chairs telling of the Taste of Oceanside Oct. 7. He also said a new “Shop Local” booklet was available in the back of the room as well as the most recent version of the “Oside Eats” downtown restaurant guide.

–Lou Ochoa, developer of the parking garage and mixed-use residential building called North Beach Promenade at Civic Center Drive and Cleveland Street, gave an update on the project. He said there was scaffolding on the building now and fire-safety and electrical systems were being installed. He called it a “12-month build.” Answering questions, he said Cleveland will be narrowed to one lane of traffic for two to three weeks for installation of a utility trench. And, yes, he told Wright, he could be parking in the structure in the fall of 2018.

–Glenda Kimbrel, on behalf of the Oceanside High School Foundation, promoted the opening event in the school’s new Performing Arts Center on campus: a fund-raiser at 7 p.m. on September 30th. Kimbrel said the concert will feature everything from Gershwin to Big Band to Rhythm and Blues. She said the center will provide a complete learning laboratory for students to set them on a career path. “All proceeds will go back to the students,” Kimbrel said. She said the foundation provides student scholarships and teacher grants and maintains 111 years of archives.

–Cathy Nykiel from MainStreet told of a concert on Friday from 6-8 p.m. at South Oceanside Elementary School featuring the “Steamers” rock-and-roll band.

–Also Nykiel said there were flyers in the back of the room about Noche Mexicana on Sunday, Harbor Days Sept. 16-17, a Heart & Stroke Walk sponsored by the American Heart Association at the pier Sept. 30th and Dia de los Muertos Oct 29th at Mission San Luis Rey.

–Gumaro Escarcega, MainStreet Program Manager, showed a picture of the mural being painted on the wall of the Star Theatre and said Scripps Health is sponsoring a mixer at the theater from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. next Tuesday with a small ceremony to “unveil” the mural at 5:30. There will be a fundraiser for KOCT Community Television Sept. 14th and that same day there will be a Town Hall meeting in the downtown library’s Community Rooms to talk about a new arts master plan for Oceanside.

–Jane Marshall, president of the Oceanside Coastal Neighborhood Association, said its meetings will resume at 7 p.m. Sept. 19th in St. Mary, Star of the Sea School to consider Coast Highway plans and to hear from City Attorney John Mullen about the decision to divide Oceanside into electoral districts.

–Wright asked Leslee Gaul, President and CEO of Visit Oceanside to introduce Shae Geary, who has been responsible for a lot of good publicity.

–Kim Millwood, Co-owner of the That Boy Good Restaurant, said it is very close to opening its new location at 326 Horne St.. “It’ll be a month at most,” she said.

Wright announced the meetings will return to their regular date and time – the first Tuesday, October, 3, 2018.

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