Trailblazing: Creekside Apartments, Vista (San Diego), CA
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
- Norman Maclean, Scottish-American Author, A River Runs Through It
In 2015, we toured a vacant parcel in Vista, a city in north San Diego County known for its mild climate, rolling hills and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The site was in the Vista Village Retail Center, surrounded by a natural creek and walkable to light rail, a Frazier Farms grocery and numerous restaurants and retailers. The site represented a rare, off-market opportunity to redevelop the land into a medium-density apartment community that would benefit from a rare combination of adjacent natural space and proximity to high-end retail. Today, the site is home to Creekside Apartments, a 2019-vintage, 41-unit apartment community.
We purchased the property, with a development partner, from the successor to the Vista Redevelopment Agency. The closing was contingent on re-entitling the site from retail to residential, which allowed us to mitigate entitlement risk and shave 18 months off our holding period during the entitlement process. We purchased the property in late 2016 and completed construction in January 2019. In April 2020, the property was transferred to Pathfinder’s Income Fund as a long-term, stabilized apartment property.
Creekside includes a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments averaging 786 square feet. Apartments feature full- sized washer/dryers, vinyl plank flooring, modern kitchens and baths, private patios or balconies and garages. Community amenities include a resident clubhouse and outdoor firepit lounge. The property was built near the Vista Village Creek and most units enjoy creek views.
Creekside is in downtown Vista, seven miles east of San Diego’s north county beaches, 40 miles north of downtown San Diego and easily accessible to several major freeways. Residents can walk to the Vista Village shopping center, which features dozens of retailers, a Cinepolis movie theater, a Crunch Fitness and a Wave water park.
Creekside revitalized a vacant parcel in an urban, infill area and provides much needed middle-income housing to the community. As we look back on our three-year endeavor to develop the property – replete with too many to count City Council, community planning group and related meetings and hearings – we take pride in having created a community that offers our residents the ability to live, work, shop and play all in one location.
San Diego County: Did you know?
San Diego County is 140,000 housing units short of meeting its current housing needs. The region has been in a housing crisis for decades and is now the most unaffordable place to live in the country. The latest OJO Labs unaffordability report saw San Diego bypass San Francisco to become the nation’s least affordable metro (based on the relationship of median home prices to median household incomes).
The majority of San Diego’s new housing developments are higher-end, and little middle-income housing is being built. Moderate-income earners, those making between 80% and 150% of San Diego’s median income, often struggle to find housing options within their budgets. These are our community’s policemen, firefighters, nurses, medical technicians and teachers. Creekside Apartments (and other similar infill projects) help fill this mid-tier housing need and are a critical element of San Diego’s current and future housing supply.
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