Sunday, December 27, 2009

Moonlight Lofts Update: Work/Live

The Artists Colony was replaced by the Artists Lofts, which was eventually marketed as the Lofts at Moonlight. JP had described the Artists Colony as, "The cool swanky Artist Colony and all it's fun nooks and crannies..." The owners of the property decided to execute their property rights as they are spelled out in the Encinitas Municipal Code and state law, there by replacing a gathering space and a walkable destination/local attraction with 20 condos and commercial units on the ground floor.

Each of the units are two+ bedroom and come with two parking spaces. Originally, the units were marketed as condos. According to one of the residents, they were all converted to rentals because they were not selling.
When these Lofts were being developed, there was talk that the new residents were going to walk to work. You know, the live upstairs and work downstairs concept. I thought it was funny to act as if that were a new option. There are already mixed use buildings on the 101 and there is a ton of residential right behind the 101 shops in Leucadia.

In Moonlight Lofts, there is a small customer parking lot under the ground floor. Inclusion of such underground lots can add substantial project costs, but it is worth it because there will be a lot of auto activity associated with Moonlight Lofts. Right now there is plenty of parking. If the shops ever get fired up it is going to be tough for visitors to avoid overflowing into the neighborhood.

The Den was the first shop to open. Cool shop.

The proprietor also owns a shop in Carlsbad and if I recall correctly, she said she lives in Temecula. She definitely said she lived outside Encinitas, so that means she did not live upstairs.

Some of the other commercial space has been leased since I spoke with the owner of the Den. A local guy openned a hot dog shop and a couple law firms moved in. Other storefronts are still empty.

In 2008 the council banned certain uses (ex: Law Firms) of ground floor space in Downtown Encinitas.
NCT: Regarding the limit on downtown ground-level space, incumbents James Bond and Houlihan as well as challengers Collier and Doug Long said they support the ordinance as necessary to promote a "walkable" downtown business district.
Does this mean the occurence of law firms at the Moonlight Lofts indcates this project has not successfully created a walkable environment? Will the city also exclude law firms (and other uses) from other "walkability" target areas?

I spoke to one of the residential tenants last week. The interior of the units is high-end. I was told that most of the tenants are young professionals. No families. There is no place adjacent to the apartments for the kids to routinely play (i.e. semi-supervised).

Although, being able to walk to the bars and restaurants was considered a great asset of the apartment for the tenant I spoke with, she drives an auto to work. After talking to tenant and shop keeper it appears that most of the tenants drive to work (each unit does come with two parking spots).

Some of the units have cool city light views. Some also have motel views. Urban living comes with some down sides and living next to the motel can mean being impacted by disturbances emanating from the motel. This was an issue for the tenant.

Motel View


  1. What a hit piece!! Thanks for nothing.

    If the Artist colony was so successful, why didn't they buy the property and keep it the way is was, a cool swanky artist colony full of nooks and crannies??

    Property owners have the right, within the law to do what they want with their property, including building condos that no one wants to buy.

    " she says she lives in that means she did not live upstairs" WTF?? That has got to be the stupidest posting I've ever read. Of course she doesn't live upstairs, she said she lived in Temecula.

    "Other store fronts are still empty" What does that mean, besides the obvious?? Are you attacking the developer for building commercial space that is not occupied?? So what?? The Longboard Grotto space is unoccupied also, and with a butt brown ugly tarp in front, hiding God only knows what. I don't read you attacking that. Why??

    "the council banned certain uses of ground floor space in downtown Encinitas" Yep and they will soon be hit with a huge lawsuit for restricting a property owners right to legally rent property to legal businesses. The city is in violation of both the 4th and 14th amendments to the US Constitution.

    "There is no.. for the kids to routinely play", there is a BEACH ONE BLOCK AWAY!!! Go play there children.

    "Urban living...for the tenant." Well maybe the tenant should go downstairs and talk with one of the attorneys and sue someone. Or move somewhere quieter, or even better, let's convert the Motel into condos and have a higher class of people in the neighborhood.

    Let me give you a suggestion, buy a condo at the Lofts. Property that close to one of the best beaches in north county is hard to come by, make some money over the next 30 years. You won't be sorry.
    PS- each condo comes with two, TWO off street parking places. Private parking places are bought and sold in major cities all across America, they are not included in the price of the condo. You pay extra, except at the Lofts.

  2. I live in the neighborhood and I like the lofts. Most of the retail spaces are empty now, but give them time and maybe some useful stores will move in. I'm stoked to hear there's a hotdog stand! I'll be eating lunch there tomorrow.

    Also as far as places for kids to play, Cottonwood Creek Park is literally across the street, and there's a very nice playground literally one block down at Moonlight Beach.

  3. Just what we need! More lawyers.
    Too bad they can't enact a law to prohibit law firms from breathing air.

  4. Anon 1047,

    The property owners totally had the right to build the lofts and it obnoxious for people to try to simply obstruct that right.

    Mentioning that some store fronts are empty was not any sort of criticism. I don't even get why that would be an attack. It is not obvious to readers who have not paid attention. The Hot Dog stand is equally apparent, but Bob hadnt noticed.

    "they will soon be hit with a huge lawsuit" Where can I offer my support for the lawsuit?

    Let me clarify the issue about kids playing for those readers without young children. Parents and their kids very much appreciate having space adjacent to their homes were kids can play. I'm not sure if I lived in the Lofts if I would let my kids go outside and walk by themselves down to the tot lot or the cottonwood creek park. There are no backyards or contained commons spaces. That is a big deal for young families and the park and beach does NOT provide that same function.

    If the Lofts were cheap relative to their intrinsic value I would purchase a unit. Regarding the parking info, I got that info from the property manager.

  5. This post seems a bit too suburban in its criticism.

    The criticism of the parking is also way off the mark. Nobody will want to use the underground parking. People will want to park on the street. If, and hopefully when, parking is hard to find, people will walk a block or two and on that way discover other business in the downtown. Ironically too little parking is a sign of a downtown's success.

    For the most part I think this in-fill project got it right.

  6. Moonlight lofts is an ugly building made uglier by the huge plastic sign. Property owners have the right to build ugly buildings with huge ugly signs.

    If I had a choice between overlooking a motel or overlooking the train tracks (Pacific Station) I would pick the motel. But that's just me.

  7. There was an article in the north county times 8 or 9 months ago about the Lofts and how they still owed the city over a million dollars in building fees. The developers were begging the city for an extension until they could get something rented or sold.

    The tone of the developer was memorable, he opined "he built something Encinitas could be proud of, so please give him some slack." Personally, I don't know anyone proud of "the lofts" (and their 2 free parking spaces - nice selling point). I think what the author of the blog post is saying is that they don't fit in. The developers obviously came up with a plan to maximize their return on the land but were clueless about reality. Thankfully, mother nature has a way of fixing that sort of thing.

    There are a bunch of mixed use "lofts" near Caldwells. They are less than 10' from highway 101. Who will pay $800k for an apartment 10' from a highway, across from a railroad track? Will it be a postal worker? It's adjacent to the Leucadia post office (Maybe a postal worker who earns $60k per year can buy a $800k loft so he doesn't have to drive in from his $100k house in Temecula). Developers were just silly during this bubble. I think someone could make an endlessly entertaining blog just pointing out the silliness.

  8. kevin c said...


    Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry that the post came across as a generally negative review of Moonlight Lofts.

    The only negative component that I want point out is the talk in the build up to the project about the live/work thing and the attached new urbanism thing.

    I'll be more blunt about the parking issue. The talk about mixed use getting people out of their cars is inconsistent with other described benefits and reality.

    I will think about the comment about parking being a sign of success. Does this mean we should reduce the number of parking spots in the Leucadia 101 streetscape plan? On of the main goals of the streetcape plan is to obtain more parking for people who will be using their cars. Is that a bad idea?

  9. seems like a nice update to me.... thanks...

  10. Glad you wrote this. In my opinion, the Lofts' sole purpose was maximum profit. When the project was only lines on paper it was evident that it was a fictional bunch of owner/operators being proposed. All the right buzz words were used - like walkability, mixed use, in-fill and density. Hot dogs, attorneys . . . Isn't that redundant?

    BTW, Anon 10:47, our General Plan is the local version of the US Constitution. It is more relevant to question if the building the Lofts violated the spirit of the Encinitas GP.

  11. The old adage "location, location",location may soon be replaced with "timing,timing,timing".

    I like the location and the product even though I liked the artist colony (but I never spent much money there and would bet not many people did).

    The developer could not have had worse timing in that the Country has entered into a horrible recession that just might morph into a horrible depression (despite the jolly news on CNBC). It's hard to predict these events when a developer starts the process and gets his permits and loan.

    I agree with Kevin that I would buy one of these units at some price and think that when the lender takes over I may see that price.

  12. They did something like this in Imperial Beach and the developer went bankrupted. I don't foresee any more projects like this in the foreseable future - that is until we become a NYC or Chicago. They don't make sense. Dumb. And - I'm PRO - DEVELOPMENT for Leucadia.

  13. the state density bonus law and the specific plans are government give aways that make the land more valuable if redeveloped. We will get more of this.

  14. I see this as a very balanced unbaised description with nice pictures too. Maybe I just read the words and not what may be between the lines.

    I am ambivalent about the lofts, but do recall them being marketed during the approval process as "live work" units. In some cities this is a class of zoning and the live area and work area is part of the same unit - to be rented to one entity.

  15. "What a hit piece!! Thanks for nothing."
    That place needs a hit piece. If not just to show what not to build in Leucadia on 101. "15 Billion Years in the Making" or so the magnificent billboard said across the street while that fudgecluster was being built. How many years will it take to pencil out? Bad planning, bad design, bad theory.

    "If the Artist colony was so successful, why didn't they buy the property and keep it the way is was, a cool swanky artist colony full of nooks and crannies??"
    The Artist's Colony didn't have 20 million dollars laying around like the out of town developer did, or I'm sure it would have. I'd also bet that if talent people from the Artist's Colony had designed that block it wouldn't have abused the Specific Plan and would be a notable destination, verdant, have plenty of nooks and crannys and would be fully occupied now.

    "Live/Work Artist Lofts" what a boondoggle to get into the planning commission's good graces. Then after their plans were approved, they drop the word "Artists" because they knew all along artists could never afford to live and work in the expensive layout they planned. But live/work? No way. Just like JP said, the lady with the retail shop lives in TEMECULA and works here. That's a 130 mile round trip each day - hardly what was intended by the people as a green "live/work" development. And on top of that, because the lady does not live here, she's taking up an extra car space (just like the lawyers and hot dog entrepreneur probably do as well.) She also has a similar business in Carlsbad, but JP didn't mention that that business is located in yet another Live/Work loft complex where she doesn't live.

    People come up with these "feel good" ideas that don't pencil out, like the summer bus that nobody rode because we already have local buses that cover far more territory, cost less and they're more frequent. Or like the billion dollar Sprinter that shaves only 5 minutes off of a commute from Oside to Escondido - but runs 30 percent less of the time and drops you off in far less convenient spots. (Emphasis on far).

  16. I'm not saying anything bad about the businesses at the Lofts or residents themselves, I'm all for a healthy business district for Leucadia and would like to see the place thrive. But like so many pregnant projects, it probably won't be able to catch on until the owner loses it to a bank, and the bank sells it cheap to the next guy. The Lofts went too far when it came to maximizing what they could build. Law offices do not make for walkable communities but create dead zone for commerce and tourism. Handy only when you trip and fall when shopping. The design is nice to look at in small doses, but clustered repetitively like it is? Nuh uh.

    "Lofty" better fits what this project became, not what the Specific Plan or the dictionary describes as a "loft".

    1. a room, storage area, or the like within a sloping roof; attic; garret.
    2. a gallery or upper level in a church, hall, etc., designed for a special purpose: a choir loft.
    3. a hayloft.
    4. an upper story of a business building, warehouse, or factory, typically consisting of open, unpartitioned floor area.
    5. such an upper story converted or adapted to any of various uses, as quarters for living, studios for artists or dancers, exhibition galleries, or theater space.
    6. Also called loft bed. a balcony or platform built over a living area and used esp. for sleeping.
    7. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. an attic.

    1. extending high in the air; of imposing height; towering: lofty mountains.
    2. exalted in rank, dignity, or character; eminent.
    3. elevated in style, tone, or sentiment, as writings or speech.
    4. arrogantly or condescendingly superior in manner; haughty: to treat someone in a lofty manner.

    "The Longboard Grotto space is unoccupied also, and with a butt brown ugly tarp in front, hiding God only knows what. I don't read you attacking that. Why??"
    Attack the Longboard Grotto for preserving what's great about Leucadia? No wonder we don't see eye to eye. The Longboard Grotto is under renovation which is going to make for 1/30th of the eyesore and take much less time to complete that the Lofts. The biggest difference is the Grotto will preserve and enhance what we love about Leucadia.

    "The property owners totally had the right to build the lofts and it obnoxious for people to try to simply obstruct that right."
    No, what's obnoxious Kevin is that the lofts got to build a 5 story structure where only three stories are permitted by our Specific Plan. That's a major violation in my obnoxious opinion.

    To sum up. There's absolutely nothing work/live about the place. That's what you call horn-swaggled.

    horn·swog·gle (hôrn'swŏg'əl)
    Chiefly Northern & Western U.S.
    To bamboozle; deceive.

  17. Meathead go to Keno's and have a beer. You've done enough thinking for the day and what a tiring day it's been, eh??

  18. Meathead,

    I didn't pay much attention to zoning issues or the permitting process, but if that structure is not to code that is lame and would be just another example of "The Encinitas Way" of doing business.

  19. 5:09
    Are you buyin?

  20. Live/work is all marketing. A small retail boutique does not generate enough income to live above it at The Lofts. How many hot dogs would that guy have to sell to afford an upstairs Loft?

    Not a hit piece. Just observations.

  21. Cat vomit architecture high density development marketed to the sops of the Council as green living -- work and live in the same area. BS. Also, the Lofts violate the general plan because the portion built along 2nd street is a separate parcel but is not multi-use...Council did not care and allowed the development to encroach beyond the setbacks required for residential buildings. I want to encroach on the setbacks when I build on my house....but I am not a deep pocket butt kissing developer so my request will be denied.

  22. anon 743 explains why anon 1047 tried to flame this post.

  23. 7:58- you don't know what 10:47 is all about.
    7:43- Over development has one purpose, to generate a higher tax base. Your council loves higher taxes, all 5 of the dupes.

  24. I love higher taxes to....

    they pay my salary for doing nothing.... I meant retirement. Sorry. I hope all of you pull in $102,578 a year in pension. If you don't you blew it. You should have been a City Slacker.

    Now get back to development and paying higher taxes.... someone needs to pay for my pension payments.

  25. Kevin,

    I think the live-work idea will happen but not in every case. Giving it a chance to happen in new buildings is a plus.

    As for parking, the first thing is to make a place walkable and to feel safe doing so by minimizing driveways and giving a buffer from the street.

    My main point is that underground parking as a public use is a waste. Maximizing on street parking solves the problem best.

  26. It's funny how the developers of The Lofts and Pacific Station act like they are the lord and saviors of Encinitas and then whine like little girls when their masterpieces get criticized. Memo to developers: stop making butt ugly buildings and the complaints will stop.

  27. anon9:09- I've never heard that the developers of the Lofts and Pacific Station are the Lords of Encinitas. Nor are their building ugly. Not when you consider what they are replacing.

  28. "Nor are their building ugly. Not when you consider what they are replacing."

    Obese architecture is butt ugly for our trim highway. That's why we have a specific plan, no matter how much it's rules are ignored. You seem to believe there was nothing redeeming about "what was there". What was there was an authentic California style stucco live/work building with cottages, gardens, ponds, trees, tile roofs, fire places, archways with ocean views, verandas and a balcony. But even that style architecture would be butt ugly and unhealthy overdone on that block.

  29. Meathead go to Keno's and have a beer. You've done enough thinking for one day and what a tiring day it's been, eh??

  30. The Lofts look appropriate for PB or North Park, not Encinitas. It's a matter of style.

  31. What is appropriate for Encinitas?

  32. Replacing an old crappy building with a new crappy building is crap.

  33. An original building with both interesting architecture and quality construction that is balance in everything including the surrounding nature.

  34. The Lofts represent so much that is inapporiate for Encinitas, such as:
    1. three stories and 90% lot coverage;
    2.taking public parking;
    3. overlarge generic signage;
    4. overuse of faux architectural details;
    5. schizophrenic color scheme;
    6. home depot landscaping;
    7. cutting down City trees to make the views better;
    8. placing living areas right next to a public sidewalk separated only by a small strip of grass;
    9. encroaching on the neighboring homes;
    10. then whining about not being able to sell the units!

  35. Update on the hotdog situation: I ate there and it was not what I expected. The standard hot dog and the polish sausage were pretty much what you'd get in an 8 pack at the grocery store, and were sitting in one of those heater/roller things like they have at 7/11. The bun was a gooey roll with a cylindrical hole drilled in it for the dog. The place is all about fancy sauces and relishes, with mango, pineapple, and banana all making appearances. Maybe great for somebody but I was just looking for a place to get a good sausage and sauerkraut on a flakey bun, and I was sorely disappointed.

  36. I went there yesterday, the alley is much improved over what was there before. I wish my street looked as nice.

  37. Takes crap to know crap.

  38. Brett,

    If you build a 4 story building how can you have enough on street parking for all the residents and customers?

    Why would someone park three blocks down on the 101 when they could instead park a block away in the residential neighborhood? They won't be walking by shops when they take up the residential on street parking.

  39. I agree. The developers have to stop making BUTT UGLY buildings. And, the Council needs to stop approving BUTT UGLY buildings.

    LEUCADIA is one place in the world that you can make something COOL and UNIQUE and take a chance.

    N M B U B ! (no more butt ugly buildings)

  40. Parking at the Lofts is fine. Want more off street parking?? Get Hugo to stop using the street as storage for the cars he is working on daily.

  41. The hot dogs at Home Depot are much better.

    Yes, the building is very generic looking, which looks fine for a small scale building like a house on a small lot. However, for a large imposing building generic looks boring.

    I recognize it's a matter of taste and expense. The builder built at the wrong time and will end up losing money on this. It's a speculative business.

  42. Hot Dogs. What a tasty alternative to eating healthy in Southern California.

  43. "The builder built at the wrong time and will end up losing money on this."

    NOT if the government forces a bailout for the developer speculators.

  44. the writers on this blog such A-Holes that don't care about evolution at all.

  45. 10:22
    Maybe we're all creationists.


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