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Proposed apartment complex for another Oceanside cinema site

The Regal Cinema in the Mission Marketplace center could be Oceanside’s next multi-screen theater to be demolished to make way for a multi-story apartment complex.

A developer met with officials from Oceanside’s planning department last month to discuss plans to build 336 apartments wrapped around a seven-tier parking structure in the mall on the northwest corner of the road National 76 and Boulevard College.

The project applicant, NewMark Merrill Companies, is 40 years old and has offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Chicago. The company owns and manages properties in more than 90 cities.

The Mission Marketplace center is anchored by a Target, Sprouts, Ross and other retail stores and restaurants, as well as offices and the cinema. However, theaters across the United States have seen a dramatic drop in box office since the pandemic, and Regal Cinemas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

“Significant headwinds in the theater business .. (cause) the plaintiff to anticipate the theater closing and a significant portion of the center to become unproductive,” says NewMark Merrill’s application filed with the city.

“The proposed project would not only provide a significant amount of new housing for the town of Oceanside, but would revitalize a soon-to-be-obsolete part of an otherwise thriving shopping center, while creating a customer base to support the success and longevity of other existing merchants,” the app says.

Six floors of apartments would wrap around a seven-level garage with 604 parking spaces, according to the plan. It would have 26 studios, 201 one-bedroom units and 109 two-bedroom units. The lowest side of the building would be 41 feet 6 inches tall next to the adjacent neighborhood of single family homes, rising to 65 feet 6 inches tall next to the existing retail buildings.

Access to the site, which is at the rear of the mall, would be improved by removing approximately 8,870 square feet of underperforming retail space on the main upper level of the mall to create an entrance. In addition to the cinema, a property management office, a residential real estate sales office and a day care center would be demolished.

Residents of the new building could drive from the commercial area across a bridge to the fourth level of the parking structure. The entrance plaza would also include space for community events, concerts and other activities.

The residential building would include a first-floor swimming pool with cabanas and barbecue, pavilion and fitness area, and landscaped courtyards.

An analysis by consultancy Kimley Horn indicates that even with as many as 400 apartments, the project could generate 826 fewer daily vehicle trips than existing uses on the property.

This is the second time this year that a developer has filed plans to build a multi-story apartment building on a Regal Cinema site in Oceanside.

A Newport Beach developer met with planning officials in May to discuss a proposed seven-story combination of residences, retail stores and restaurants for the 2.7 acres occupied by the 16-screen Regal complex on Mission Avenue in downtown Oceanside.

The proposed 75-foot-tall building would feature 321 residential units and three parking levels, including a basement, as well as outdoor courtyards, a “resort-style pool, spa, lounges and lush gardens,” according to the preliminary application filed at Oceanside City Hall.

Both of Oceanside’s redevelopment projects are in the early planning stages, and any groundbreaking could take years. However, they are embracing the trend of infill building in what planners are calling “smart growth” areas within walking distance of jobs, services and public transportation.

California isn’t the only state where apartments could replace Regal Cinemas.

A developer in Ormand Beach, Fla., proposed in June to build a 312-apartment complex on a vacant Regal site, according to a report in the online newspaper Ormond Beach Observer. The city’s planning council approved the project unanimously.

John Smith

The author John Smith