Commercial center under way in San Elijo

Scott Landheer

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As the population of San Elijo Hills continues to rise, the development of its Towncenter is beginning to take shape.

The community hopes to set itself apart from other surrounding developments by offering a small town, Main Street feel to its shopping center and a pedestrian oriented layout to the community.

Jim Fiegen, San Elijo Hills Visitor Center representative, said that many people he talks to are relocating from around the country, and “when they experience the village feel, they’re really impressed by it.”

The Towncenter will be located in the center of the master-planned community and will contain about 25-35 stores and 470 parking spaces when completed. Across the street from the Towncenter will be a 50,000 square foot grocery store.

Fiegen said residents can expect “all the usual suspects you’d expect” from a small town community. Every level of dining, from fast food to fine dining, will be represented along with a hair salon, nail salon, dry cleaner, bakery, orthodontist and dentist.

Leases have already been signed for a Mexican restaurant, sushi restaurant, salon, mail service, dry cleaner and coffee shop. Several other businesses have submitted letters of intent to occupy the complex, according to Curt Noland, general manager of San Elijo Hills Development Company.

“Dozens and dozens and dozens” of businesses have submitted letters of interest, Fiegen said.

Although the Towncenter has been designed to meet the needs of residents and not necessarily to attract people from Carlsbad or San Marcos, there is a neighboring housing development called Old Creek Ranch that will be able to easily take advantage.

There is also a school in San Elijo Hills, which opened in 2004, which has students from outside of the community because the campus is part of the San Marcos Unified School District. Parents dropping off and picking up students will be able to take advantage of the Towncenter.

Just behind the planned center is the town square, which contains a large grassy area as well as a fountain and plenty of tables and chairs that are filled with residents on Saturday mornings, according to Fiegen.

The town square is in front of the San Elijo Hills Visitor Center, which was built in 2000 and dedicated in 2001. The square holds events such as movie nights, an Easter egg hunt, Christmas tree lighting and live music.

Because the community has been developed on a mountain, preparation for building has been quite difficult.

With so much rock in the construction sites, the Towncenter and grocery story properties have to be over-excavated to remove the rock before being filled back in with smaller pieces of material. Grading of the sites began in September and construction crews have had to blast rock apart to be able to remove it.

Although the date of completion for the Towncenter and grocery store is still not nailed down, three businesses are already operating in San Elijo Hills. The San Elijo Café is attached to the Visitor Center and serves coffee, bagels, breakfast burritos and sandwiches.

A recently opened Chevron gas station and mini-mart is the first building you pass when entering the community.

After residents voiced concerns about noise pollution and lights, the design of the Chevron was changed to sink the building 12 feet below ground. The quietest carwash available was used and the structure was turned sideways from the original plan.

And after opening, the gas station began taking suggestions for what shoppers wanted stocked on the shelves.

San Elijo Hills Realty’s office can be found on the second floor of the visitor center and has been open since July 1, 2005.

Of 3,400 planned residences, more than 2,600 are already occupied, and although it depends on how quickly houses sell, Noland said he hopes all of the residences will be filled by the end of 2008 or early 2009, bringing the total population of the community to around 10,000.

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