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Will Oceanside get a stealth Amazon warehouse?

Will the wave park ever be built?

Amazon distribution hub. Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will get another Amazon surprise.
Amazon distribution hub. Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will get another Amazon surprise.

As Amazon’s business skyrocketed during Covid, the company became America’s largest private occupier of industrial real estate. There are some 23 Amazon distribution/warehouse hubs in Southern California including Otay Mesa (six-million square feet) and Vista (400,000 square feet). Amazon wants more land and it has the money to get it. The largest commercial property land purchase in Orange County last year was Amazon’s purchase of 30 acres in Brea for $165 million.

Oceanside, which has the worst jobs-to-housing ratio in the county, would have benefited from the arrival of a proposed new Amazon hub and its 500 promised jobs planned for the Ocean Ranch area. But the Oceanside city council torpedoed the Amazon warehouse in August after neighbors said the 24/7 distribution warehouse would create a round-the-clock menagerie of noise, traffic and light from trucks and the warehouse.

Some insiders wonder if a new under-the-radar development now winding its way through city channels is actually a second attempt by Amazon to secure a beachhead in Oceanside. Amazon’s name was not connected with the operator in the Ocean Ranch project until months after the project was first introduced.

About to be razed: The old Deutsch/TE Connectivity plant

Without fanfare, plans were filed with Oceanside last September to demolish all the buildings at the Deutsch/TE Connectivity industrial site and replace it with one 560,280-square foot “industrial warehouse and distribution center.”

The 31.8-acre site in question was home to the Deutsch industrial plant from 1966 to 2012. Deutsch sold the property to Swiss-based TE Connectivity in 2012 which in turn closed the site down and fired or relocated its 300-plus employees in 2020.

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The property is bounded by the Oceanside airport and the San Luis Rey River.

Some insiders wonder if this property two miles from the ocean and north of Highway 76 is about to be transfigured into an Amazon monolith. Its plans call for 2831 trips a day to and from the new building. Plans submitted to the city say the new warehouse is not affiliated with any tenant at this time.

Commercial real estate broker Roger Carlson of CBRE Industrial Services confirmed that the property has been sold by TE Connectivity for $42 million, but that he was not allowed to disclose the name of the buyer.

The OceanKAMP project, which includes 700 homes and an artificial wave lagoon, has been stalled.

Dan Neibaum, point man for the Lightfoot Planning Group which was hired to get the project approved, did not respond to a request for comment.

And the same architectural firm, Ware Malcomb, which drew the plans for the aborted Amazon project at Ocean Ranch, created the design for this new site.

Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will not get another Amazon surprise. His RPG company (formerly RAF Pacifica Group) bought the site and is building on it. “I have not heard from them,” he says of the folks at Amazon. He says he wants to build and then hold on to the building and lease it to long-term clients as he has done in other cities. He says he wants to use 60 percent of the new space for a life sciences company and the other 40 percent for a “manufacturing and distribution company,” although specific plans may change.

He would not disclose possible tenants. He says whoever they are, their trucks would access his new building from Highway 76 via Benet Road and will not pass directly by existing homes.

Robinson admits there is nothing to keep him from eventually selling his new Oceanside warehouse. For instance, his RPG company just sold a 169,825-square foot industrial facility in Carlsbad for $44 million soon after it was built.

Robinson says homes could never be built on this site because it's adjacent to the airport. He says possible soil contamination due to years of metal plating at Deutsch may also be problematic for homes. “It’s zoned industrial… This is the last large piece of land available for industrial development in North County.”

Nick Bihary, 72, worked at both Deutsch and TE Connectivity from 1996 to 2021. He says the Deutsch brothers had their own hangar so they could fly into Oceanside. Bihary says workers were given profit sharing, had an in-house commissary, and even had an on-site park which would host special events at Christmas and Easter. “It flooded at least twice that I can remember. The water was two feet high.”

For the last ten years or so the San Luis Rey bike trail has acted as a levee, protecting some ten miles of the valley from San Luis Rey overflow. Nevertheless Robinson says he will spend $4 million to build his own 8-½ foot cement-and-steel wall that will completely surround the warehouse and protect it from any future flooding.

Also dealing with the flooding realities of the San Luis Rey Valley is the nearby OceanKAMP development which is about a mile southeast. Almost 500,000 cubic yards of dirt have been brought in over the past two years to lift the former site of a drive-in movie center out of the floodplain. While the dirt importation work is nearly complete, the rest of the OceanKAMP project which includes 700 homes and an artificial wave lagoon has been stalled due to design demands from the city.

Developer Mike Grehl of N4FL says OceanKAMP is still a go. He says he expects to turn in plans to the planning commission by the end of spring.

But Carolyn Krammer, a key player in local youth surf competitions and an outspoken advocate of beachland protection, wonders if the wave lagoon will actually get built. “If OceanKAMP actually gets approved, I would hope that the city makes them build the lagoon before being allowed to build the houses. I think this may be a Trojan horse…just to get the houses and then, oops!, there’s no money left to build the lagoon.”

Chas Smith of Cardiff is the co-publisher of the Beach Grit online surf mag. He doesn’t get the whole idea of fake waves in Oceanside.

“Oceanside has ample good surf,” says Smith. “Who in their right mind would pay $50 or whatever it is to surf in a wave park when you can surf anywhere in Oceanside. I know it has happened successfully in Lemoore [near Fresno] and Palm Desert, but that is inland. I speak with people all the time who are involved with those places and I’ve not heard anything from them that this one in Oceanside is actually going to happen. Which makes me wonder.”

Developer Grehl says the OceanKAMP’s wave lagoon “...is absolutely happening… Artificial surf lagoons in Texas, California, Arizona and across the globe have experienced incredible success and loyal followings.”

Meanwhile, the 28-acre Ocean Ranch property which was denied for Amazon last year was just purchased by bio-pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, Inc. This is good news for Oceanside as it expands into the technology and life sciences industry by Carlsbad. That property was sold by US Foods in 2020 for $32 million. It was just sold last week for an eye-popping $132.5 million.

“There is no more space in Carlsbad,” says Robinson “Carlsbad is almost 100 percent full.”

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Amazon distribution hub. Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will get another Amazon surprise.
Amazon distribution hub. Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will get another Amazon surprise.

As Amazon’s business skyrocketed during Covid, the company became America’s largest private occupier of industrial real estate. There are some 23 Amazon distribution/warehouse hubs in Southern California including Otay Mesa (six-million square feet) and Vista (400,000 square feet). Amazon wants more land and it has the money to get it. The largest commercial property land purchase in Orange County last year was Amazon’s purchase of 30 acres in Brea for $165 million.

Oceanside, which has the worst jobs-to-housing ratio in the county, would have benefited from the arrival of a proposed new Amazon hub and its 500 promised jobs planned for the Ocean Ranch area. But the Oceanside city council torpedoed the Amazon warehouse in August after neighbors said the 24/7 distribution warehouse would create a round-the-clock menagerie of noise, traffic and light from trucks and the warehouse.

Some insiders wonder if a new under-the-radar development now winding its way through city channels is actually a second attempt by Amazon to secure a beachhead in Oceanside. Amazon’s name was not connected with the operator in the Ocean Ranch project until months after the project was first introduced.

About to be razed: The old Deutsch/TE Connectivity plant

Without fanfare, plans were filed with Oceanside last September to demolish all the buildings at the Deutsch/TE Connectivity industrial site and replace it with one 560,280-square foot “industrial warehouse and distribution center.”

The 31.8-acre site in question was home to the Deutsch industrial plant from 1966 to 2012. Deutsch sold the property to Swiss-based TE Connectivity in 2012 which in turn closed the site down and fired or relocated its 300-plus employees in 2020.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The property is bounded by the Oceanside airport and the San Luis Rey River.

Some insiders wonder if this property two miles from the ocean and north of Highway 76 is about to be transfigured into an Amazon monolith. Its plans call for 2831 trips a day to and from the new building. Plans submitted to the city say the new warehouse is not affiliated with any tenant at this time.

Commercial real estate broker Roger Carlson of CBRE Industrial Services confirmed that the property has been sold by TE Connectivity for $42 million, but that he was not allowed to disclose the name of the buyer.

The OceanKAMP project, which includes 700 homes and an artificial wave lagoon, has been stalled.

Dan Neibaum, point man for the Lightfoot Planning Group which was hired to get the project approved, did not respond to a request for comment.

And the same architectural firm, Ware Malcomb, which drew the plans for the aborted Amazon project at Ocean Ranch, created the design for this new site.

Adam Robinson of Encinitas promises that Oceanside will not get another Amazon surprise. His RPG company (formerly RAF Pacifica Group) bought the site and is building on it. “I have not heard from them,” he says of the folks at Amazon. He says he wants to build and then hold on to the building and lease it to long-term clients as he has done in other cities. He says he wants to use 60 percent of the new space for a life sciences company and the other 40 percent for a “manufacturing and distribution company,” although specific plans may change.

He would not disclose possible tenants. He says whoever they are, their trucks would access his new building from Highway 76 via Benet Road and will not pass directly by existing homes.

Robinson admits there is nothing to keep him from eventually selling his new Oceanside warehouse. For instance, his RPG company just sold a 169,825-square foot industrial facility in Carlsbad for $44 million soon after it was built.

Robinson says homes could never be built on this site because it's adjacent to the airport. He says possible soil contamination due to years of metal plating at Deutsch may also be problematic for homes. “It’s zoned industrial… This is the last large piece of land available for industrial development in North County.”

Nick Bihary, 72, worked at both Deutsch and TE Connectivity from 1996 to 2021. He says the Deutsch brothers had their own hangar so they could fly into Oceanside. Bihary says workers were given profit sharing, had an in-house commissary, and even had an on-site park which would host special events at Christmas and Easter. “It flooded at least twice that I can remember. The water was two feet high.”

For the last ten years or so the San Luis Rey bike trail has acted as a levee, protecting some ten miles of the valley from San Luis Rey overflow. Nevertheless Robinson says he will spend $4 million to build his own 8-½ foot cement-and-steel wall that will completely surround the warehouse and protect it from any future flooding.

Also dealing with the flooding realities of the San Luis Rey Valley is the nearby OceanKAMP development which is about a mile southeast. Almost 500,000 cubic yards of dirt have been brought in over the past two years to lift the former site of a drive-in movie center out of the floodplain. While the dirt importation work is nearly complete, the rest of the OceanKAMP project which includes 700 homes and an artificial wave lagoon has been stalled due to design demands from the city.

Developer Mike Grehl of N4FL says OceanKAMP is still a go. He says he expects to turn in plans to the planning commission by the end of spring.

But Carolyn Krammer, a key player in local youth surf competitions and an outspoken advocate of beachland protection, wonders if the wave lagoon will actually get built. “If OceanKAMP actually gets approved, I would hope that the city makes them build the lagoon before being allowed to build the houses. I think this may be a Trojan horse…just to get the houses and then, oops!, there’s no money left to build the lagoon.”

Chas Smith of Cardiff is the co-publisher of the Beach Grit online surf mag. He doesn’t get the whole idea of fake waves in Oceanside.

“Oceanside has ample good surf,” says Smith. “Who in their right mind would pay $50 or whatever it is to surf in a wave park when you can surf anywhere in Oceanside. I know it has happened successfully in Lemoore [near Fresno] and Palm Desert, but that is inland. I speak with people all the time who are involved with those places and I’ve not heard anything from them that this one in Oceanside is actually going to happen. Which makes me wonder.”

Developer Grehl says the OceanKAMP’s wave lagoon “...is absolutely happening… Artificial surf lagoons in Texas, California, Arizona and across the globe have experienced incredible success and loyal followings.”

Meanwhile, the 28-acre Ocean Ranch property which was denied for Amazon last year was just purchased by bio-pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, Inc. This is good news for Oceanside as it expands into the technology and life sciences industry by Carlsbad. That property was sold by US Foods in 2020 for $32 million. It was just sold last week for an eye-popping $132.5 million.

“There is no more space in Carlsbad,” says Robinson “Carlsbad is almost 100 percent full.”

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Comments

We don't live in Oceanside, but I think Oceanside is a good place for an Amazon warehouse. Why not? I t would be less of a problem than some of the things going on in town, and for customers who order all the time. It will get there even faster.

March 18, 2022

I really wonder about all these developments that are proposed for Oceanside. There have been too many that were poorly conceived and while the city blocked some of them, it also approved others. There is no reason to doubt that a developer would lie to get an approval, and then later on be "forced by circumstances" into selling for a different use. Poor old Oceanside just doesn't get a break from perfidy.

March 19, 2022
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