Over 30 vacant storefronts have led to plans for a major remodel
During the past decade, the Camino Town & Country shopping center — at El Camino Real at Highway 78 in Oceanside, one of the busiest intersections in North County — has become dilapidated, with vacant storefronts and large anchor stores moving out. Over the past five years, the center’s “for lease” sign has announced “Major Remodel Coming Soon.”
Now empty are 30-some spaces, which once included a country-and-western nightclub, Filipino grocery store, liquor store, hair salon, barber shop, computer repair, thrift store, several restaurants, and an L.A. Fitness.
But it must have been planned, as within the next few weeks, 84,305 square feet of buildings will be demolished to make way for a revitalization of the center; a remaining 116,650 square feet will have new façades.
“We’re staying,” said Colleen, the manager of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store. The city’s project planner, Scott Nightingale, confirmed that only Jo-Ann’s and the Oceanside Dialysis Center would remain in the now-155,000-square-foot center.
The biggest building that will come down will be a movie theater that has been dark for at least two decades. In its heyday, the Camino North fourplex was the first multiscreen theater in coastal North County.
Seigel Bros once owned all four large-screen theaters in Oceanside.
Seigel Bros once owned all four large-screen theaters in Oceanside; they also opened the Oceanside Drive-In in the mid ’70s. The brothers later built the four-screen Mission Drive-In prior to abandoning the single screens and drive-ins for the multiplex business.
Scott Nightingale said he worked at the Camino North fourplex for years when he was growing up in Oceanside. “At one time we were the largest screen multiplex in the county,” he said.
The existing Target store, which is in a separate half of the property, at the corner of Vista Way and El Camino Real, will receive another 7500 square feet of indoor space. “Basically, where the closed outdoor section is now,” said Nightingale.
The developers will be rushing to knock the buildings down, trying to beat a February 29 deadline, as water-runoff and storm-drainage regulations become stricter after that date. According to Nightingale, the center’s owners have reported they will be building the largest new store for a WinCo Foods, which will be the second San Diego County location of the Idaho-based chain of 105 stores — opening their first last year in San Marcos.
Historical footnote: The Seigel Bros movie empire started to collapse when they lost an appeal to the California Coastal Commission, trying to keep the first movie-house chain from opening a multiplex on, what they claimed, was environmentally sensitive land overlooking the Buena Vista Creek Lagoon. In actuality, the big chain exhibitor wanted to build a multiplex one block from their Camino North Theater. Large chains also dealt directly with the studio distributors and didn’t need a middleman distributor like the Seigels.