Caruso to Start Campaign for Carlsbad Project

Caruso Affiliated, the developer of high-profile retail centers The Grove and The Americana at Brand, previously announced that it intended to build a mall in Carlsbad, a city located in coastal north San Diego County.

But Rick Caruso, the founder and chief executive officer of Caruso Affiliated, laid his cards on the table on May 12. He held a press conference outlining his plans for a Caruso project in Carlsbad.

He said he hoped to build a center for retail and dining on the Agua Hedionda lagoon by the Interstate 5 freeway in Carlsbad. The property is currently owned by San Diego Gas & Electric. Caruso Affiliated is slated to acquire 203 acres on the lagoon land from the utility. However, to build the currently unnamed project, Caruso Affiliated must convince Carlsbad voters to change the zoning for the area. The property is currently zoned for open space and agriculture. Some Carlsbad residents, including the farming family that had cultivated the land with strawberries for generations, joined a campaign to change the zoning for the property, according to some media reports.

The City of Carlsbad’s website confirmed that a notice of intent to circulate a petition to create a new specific plan had been filed on May 12. The citizen group Preserving Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way noted that its website ( enjoyed major funding by Caruso Affiliated.

The group endorsed an endeavor called “The 85/15 Plan.” Its platform is to make 85 percent of the 203 acres open space and available for farming, with 15 acres set aside for Caruso’s project. The land would be preserved and the retail space would be developed at no cost to taxpayers, the group’s website promised.

If the group can gather valid signatures for 15 percent, or 9,784 registered voters in Carlsbad, the initiative can qualify to be placed on a municipal ballot.