San Elijo Hills Town Center Update

The San Elijo Hills Town Center is progressing 8 of the 10 retail spaces are committed, with the 1st retail spaces expected to open in August. The 12 Marketwalk residential lofts will have pricing and a model for viewing soon.

The current visitors center is in escrow and is anticipated to close mid July and is expected to become office space. The cafe that has been subsidized by San Elijo Development and is expected to not have the same arrangement with the new owner. Make sure you read the reader comments here.

Here are the projected retail business:

1.      Subway
2       Windmill Cleaners
3       Postal Annex
4       Dexter’s Deli
5       Rose’s Nails
6       Frozen Yogurt
7       Hometown Realty
8       San Elijo Hills Visitor Center
9       TBD
10     TBD


  • In case anyone was confused, Dexter’s Deli caters to dogs & cats. It’s not another fast food joing. What the town center seriously lacks are viable restaurants or a pub. How about something for the adults in the community?

    • Why do we need a nail solon or a deli catering to animals? I agree, this community is in need of a wine bar/pub and a nice restaurant. We do NOT need a Subway or nail salon. Waste of space in my opinion.

  • Keep in mind, the “Subway” is not an actual Subway franschise. It’s actually a mom and pop sandwich shop owned by someone who owns a similar shop in Carlsbad. I do agree, though, that I question the need for an upscale pet food store and nail salon. Between those, plus the realtor and the new visitor center, there’s still only a couple of retail tenants in this phase that will be attractive to SEH residents. With another Windmill Cleaners right over on Melrose, I’m not sure we needed another one this close. Perhaps Isabell’e’s French Pastry shop can take one of the other open spaces, provided the sandwich shop and the Starbuck’s in Albertson’s make that impractical.

  • Yeah the whole upscale dog/cat deli idea is lame I’m happy with the sub shop and frozen yogurt – but I agree, there aren’t many attractive retail tenants in that first phase.

    Any idea on when they’ll start construction of the next phase (in between gas station and fountain)? Hopefully there will be good restaurants and a pub/bar in there – but that’s probably at least a couple years away.

  • I second the wine/bar lounge spot for the adults.

  • They must not poll the residents of SEH to see what tenants we would embrace.

    Great… another Subway we don’t need. New one just opened on Melrose. Would have been nice to have a better sandwich shop like Board N Brew in Bressi Ranch. What happened to Mr Taco?

    I agree we need a wine bar or pizza place so adults can grab some good food and a cold beer or glass of wine.

    Guess our money will continue to go to the Encinitas, Del Mar and Carlsbad…

    • CT, check out the comment above. The subway IS a sandwich shop, not a Subway franchise. Plus, many of the other stuff we want is slated for the next phase, including Mr. Taco, a sit-down Italian restaurant and a pizza place.

    • I agree we need subway is already so close. pizza or small restraunt is needed. Italian would be great!

  • How about a Chipotle or some place we could actually pick up dinner?

  • Readers please take new poll on the site about suggested use of last 2 open retail spaces. Your voice told Walmart no and now you have chance to get the word out about what you would like to see!

    • We have made our voice clear…we want an adult oriented business, i.e. pub/restaraunt. Not a doggy deli our sub shop or nail salon. How clear do we have to be on this. This phase of relail is a JOKE!

  • We need a place for families to go where the adults can drink some beer or wine and then WALK home. That is what this community is supposed to be about- walking to the downtown area and then walking home.

  • I know Subway IS a sandwich shop but it is not the one I would expect to see in SEH and especially that there was a new one just built on Melrose about a mile away. What’s next a Chilis and a McDonalds?

    Happy to hear the taco shop, pizza place, Italian restaurant are in the next phase. Anyone have a timeline for Phase 2?

    • CT you don’t read very well, he was trying to explain that the Subway is not a Franchise Subway, as in the one on Melrose you keep talking about. It is different!!!!! A mom and pop local owned, no affiliation.

  • Seems unanimous the residents of San Elijo are craving a sit down kid friendly restaurant. I would vote for ANY of the choices on the poll (with the exception of expensive kids clothes) over what we currently have coming in.

    I am optimistic about phase II.

  • No, CT – what’s he’s saying is that it’s not a Subway franchise ($5 footlongs, Jared, etc).

    It’s apparently a mom and pop type sub shop – not an actual Subway chain. Just the same name. That’s at least how I read it.

    I’d love a corner pub type place with good bar food, beer, TVs, etc.

  • I think the nail salon will do well. Considering the number of stay-at-home/well-to-do moms in the area. Plus the number of younger working women.

    I don’t think the Dexters will do well enough to stay open for very long. We do need a casual sit-down place to eat with good food. And i wont’ be using the postal annex since they charge a fee on top of the postal office charges.

    • I think the nail salon will do well also……I agree, but not because thre are a lot of “well-to-do” moms in the area. This is not La Jolla or Del Mar. There are lots of stay-at-home-moms but these households are operating on one single income and just making it. Most of my friends and friends of friends in this community are hugely affected by the economy. Dexter’s Deli does well where it’s located in Del Mar, but I doubt it will survive here in SEH. We are an average community that needs practical shops. I do agree that the Wine Bar/Pub is a fantastic idea.

  • Agreed on both counts. I don’t give Dexter’s Deli a year. People are cutting BACK these days, not paying for luxuries like gourmet pet food, particularly with the Albertson’s right next door. And I can’t see using the Postal Annex for anything but emergencies (although I can’t figure out what a “postal emergency” might be!). Stamps cost enough without paying a surcharge, particularly when you can get them for face value at the post office.

  • Regarding Dexter’s Deli, I’d hate to see any new retail fail w/in the community, especially since we’ve all had to wait so long to have to have the possibility to shop close to home. Even though they are marginally more expensive then Petco, I plan to support them w/our pet purchases. Let’s hope all the businesses do well so it will encourage a swifter completion of our town center.

  • That’s a good point, and makes me rethink my position even on Postal Annex. Any business failing in Phase 1 would give potential Phase 2 business owners a reason to reconsider and maybe not come here at all. It is VERY important that residents of San Elijo Hills do all we can to patronize the retailers who are willing to come here. We’ve already heard about how much Albertson’s has struggled, and while there’s little or no risk of it closing its doors, the only thing worse than no Town Center would be one with vacant and boarded-up stores that failed because we didn’t do our best to support them.

  • San Elijo hills is such a unique community. Why water it down with these bland uses? This list just screams “lease out as soon as possible”. How about a little character? All these uses are within a 2 mile radius of us already. To be successful these businesses are going to need some draw from the outside community, and with these uses-no way. Dexters Deli-Pet People by the college. Postal Annex-The UPS store in the university center. Nails and cleaners-you never see those around? Frozen yogurt-again-university center-YOGO. Recipe for turning spaces back to the landlord is what this equals. Who is leasing this? Does anyone have the contact? There are so many unique concepts they should have marketed the center to, which WILL ACTUALLY draw people to it.

  • We definitely need a more adult-oriented place in San Elijo. A place where adults can go and have a drink, meet with friends, and just hang-out. I will support our local businesses in San Elijo (so glad they’re finally here!), but not at the cost of overpaying for things.

    Anyone have more info about Phase II?

  • They need a 3rd corner or winesteals (for those of you that know the places in encinitas or ocean beach). Solid wine bar/restaurants with hardly any markup. I wish there was a chipotle, pie wei type place going in close by if not in SEH.

  • I would also question the use of SEH realty and the visitor center in the new space. I suspect, that they are still charging rediculously high rent on the retail space. That makes it very difficut for most new restaurants to take a risk on the space in this economy. It is a risk as no restaurant has done well in this area.

  • I think the main issue is that SEH is not a “destination” that folks outside the community will drive to, not when there’s Encinitas, Restaurant Row and the restaurants up on Las Posas so close.

    So, any restaurant in the Town Center would need to rely almost exclusively on SEH (and Old Creek) residents to support it (and that’s one of the reasons Trader Joe’s chose not to come here and we got Albertson’s instead). And I’m sure they’d look closely at how the Albertson’s and the rest of the Phase 1 retailers are performing before they make a committment to open in SEH.

  • A quaint cafe that serves freshly cooked, hearty breakfast and lunch would be awesome, similar to the cafes you find at PCH. Ice cream shop-would be nice for this summer, pastry house that comes with a working kitchen – this could have been Isabel Briens’ big constraint, Laemmle Theater..somewhere in San Marcos, a good children’s clothing and garden boutiques (similar to Jacadi, Children’s Orchard, or Smith & Hawken), a great haircut salon for us women who don’t want to drive to Encinitas (I know the person who should just open this salon – yeah , you! you know who you are).

    Just a few ideas to add on top of a fun pub for the grown-ups.. hope this helps.

  • I question the business savvy of someone who would open a sandwich shop called Subway that is not affiliated with the franchise. How do they plan to avoid the eventual lawsuit?

  • I don’t think it’s actually called Subway. The fact that there’s confusion about this is leftover from a very early printed handout of potential Phase 1 retailers that called the sandwich shop “Subway.” To your point, if it ain’t a real Subway, they certainly wouldn’t be calling it that.

  • Unless something has recently changed… Per an email I received from the City of SM…. it is in fact a real “Subway” franchise. Could care less if it is a “Mom and Pop” owned franchise as the food will still suck if it is a Subway. If they had put in a Board N Brew or other decent sandwich shop or deli then it would be a whole different story.

  • Wow, if that’s true, I’m surprised and terribly disappointed that they’d allow an actual Subway franchise in San Elijo Hills. That’s NOT what I’d been told multiple times from various sources, and certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the types of retailers we were led to believe our Town Center would have. What’s next . . . an El Torito as our “Mexican restaurant?”

  • It would be nice to have restaurants that are not part of a chain. In addition, a good pub and a wine bar would be great.
    We have waited this long for the town center to be built up-do not spoil it with another strip mall feel.

    • I agree. I think that most of us expected something a bit different than the “usual suspects.” It would be really great to have a wine bar and / or something other than the same old, same old. I don’t have anything againgst Subway as such… I just think that we were “sold” on something entirely different, and since we have waited SO LONG for the town center to materialize… It’s a little disappointing. That’s just my opinion! I sincerley hope that we will see some individual (not chains) businesses take a chance on San Elijo Hills, which really is a special place to live.

  • Someone please answer-Is the Subway lease already done. I have a direct solution that will make everyone happy here, with respect to a great-non chain sandwich shop. I just need to see some community support to move forward.

  • The Subway lease is as locked in as any new lease in this economy. Most small shop owners are cash poor today and can’t branch out or start up. I bet if you look over green screen you can see yellow Subway improvements on the way. Rancho Santa Fe mom and pop town center merchants have struggled for years. Our voices are being watched but the economy is a huge factor. It’s important that we support the merchants that do take a risk on SEH.

  • Thank you Hills Local. I have a proposal for a PROVEN (even in this economy) and unique concept, which will drive destination business as well. In my opinion, that is what it is going to take to make long lasting tenants successful. I would appreciate anyone’s suggesstions on how to approach this, given there IS a lease signed.

  • Quoted from several emails I received from the City of SM:

    “We have signed with Subway, and we have proposals from a couple of pizza operators that would probably serve beer and wine. It is a family operator that has a lot of experience and several restaurants in Carlsbad and elsewhere. A wine bar operator has also expressed interest.”

    I questioned why another Subway since a new one was just built on Melrose a mile away. Here is the response:

    “With regard to the Subway on Melrose, all I can say is that it is a different franchise. It seems very odd to me as well that Subway Corporate gave that approval, but we satisfied that our operator is very experienced and engaged. ”

    These are for Phase 1 and he could not provide any info on Phase 2.

  • A few questions:

    1. What’s so terribly wrong with having a Subway here? If they serve good healthy food at a reasonable price, isn’t that a GOOD thing? I’ve never quite understood why people are always so in love with “mom and pop” stores. You don’t see all the people who’d love to have a full-size Starbucks in the towncenter clamoring for a “mom and pop” coffeeshop, do you? Just because something’s part of a national chain doesn’t mean it’s bad, particularly if the franchise owner knows what he/she is doing. Believe me, I’ve seen as many terrible “mom and pop” stores as terrible national franchises, and they’re more likely to go out of business during economic downturns than a national franchise.

    2. Why the paranoia of the towncenter turning into a strip mall? You can already see by the design that those Phase 1 retailers will look nice in the neighborhood, just like Alberston’s does. I’m sure a cosmetic integration was part of the agreement.

    3. What’s the big deal if there’s already a Subway on Melrose? That’s not walking distance, and one of the benefits of having a towncenter here at all is that it becomes a pedestrian-friendly environment, particularly for all the SEH neighborhoods that are literally within a 5-minute walk of the towncenter.

    C’mon, can we please look at the bright side of things? We’ve been yelling and screaming for a towncenter for years, and now that it’s really starting to happen, we should be rejoicing.

    • The problem is that Subway is NOT good healthy food. It’s a rip off. They put very little meat in their sandwiches and it’s not a good value.

  • I hope to god SEH guy is the broker for this center has made a living off leasing this space. If not-quit being numb and listen to what the FUTURE clientele is saying.

  • I agree with most of these posts. I really hope we get a wine bar and some different restaurants choices. I am extremely disappointed with the Postal Annex, Dexter’s Deli, Subway and the Visitor’s Center. This community has so much potential. It is frustrating that Bressi Ranch and 4S Ranch have their retail centers done when this community started before them. What can we do about this?

    • One thing you can do is sign a lease in the unleased space and open a business you think will do well. Good luck getting financing. Good luck putting every asset you have on the line. Timing just sucks.

  • I just don’t understand why the residents weren’t polled in advance of confirming these businesses. I am all for supporting the shops in SEH and I do think it’s extremely important, but we had no input. I will NOT spend money on gourmet dog items in this economy! Postel Annex is the same issue………not in this economy! This really could have been a win-win for everyone if there was some due dilligence done in advance. Most of my friends in SEH are struggling and cutting back and I think this should have been thought through better.

  • JC in Crestview

    Can’t SEH pets eat Iams or Science Diet or Purina Dog/Cat chow? Why do we need a special store for pet food? That is crazy.
    How about somewhere where we can watch the CHARGERS and have a few brews with our neighbors. This has been going on for YEARS. Pet Deli. Gimme a break.

  • This phase is a TOTAL JOKE!! Now we get to wait another 2 years for more mistakes to made…I am so disappointed. SEH, you suck.

  • Thoughts on an upscale (but afforable) flower shop with small gifts? Such as what is in Rancho Santa Fe?

    Maybe I could serve wine? =)

  • I personally would support any retail — flower/gifts & especially wine! — that is opened in Phase 1. We can’t have a Phase II if retailers are not supported with our hard earned cash. Anybody else with me on this???!

  • Cleaners – I get it
    Subway and a Deli – Why do you need both? Scrap one.
    Postal Annex – These places are ripoffs but its a convenience so I guess its justified.
    Yogurt – sure. A good place to go after dinner with the kids
    Realty office – What is the realty office needed for? Honestly, who goes into a realty office these days?
    Rose’s Nails – that place will be packed so cant argue it (Im a man but im sure that place will make a killing).
    Petstore – petco is down the road next to henrys – fail.

    Two spots left – A wine lounge is a fantastic idea with maybe some live music on weekends. Could be both inside outside type place.

    A Bar, sports lounge. This is ok but it should be relatively high end and not another Applebees/ Chili type place.

    I live in 4s currently so I will comment on the success of 4s. Chilis is convenient but weak in my opinion. Zocolo is a nice upscale touch (I wish their prices werent so rediculous). Capri blue is nice and they have live music on weekends so it captures the adult wine lounge idea. Putting a wendys in lost my respect. That was the worst move. Put in a Chipotle or something, but not a dumpy fast food spot. The pizza place has changed ownership multiple times.

    A nice sushi bar is also a good idea but all in all if they open an adult spot, please god start a happy hour for the community. I love going to spots on the way home but how great would it be to be able to get the sitter at home for the kids, walk to the towncenter and enjoy some time with my neighbors. Cheers – Future SEH resident.

  • Just realized that dexter’s is the pet store. Sorry about the two deli comment.

  • Windmill Cleaners is now open in San Elijo Hills Town Center …tell them San Elijo Life sent you.

  • Rumor is Subway is not coming to SEH?

  • Being a dog lover and reading these posts about Dexter’s “failing” is surprising. I’ve heard they offer good quality products at decent prices. Many of us at the dog park are looking forward to it. I hope we all support and give these locally owned businesses a chance.

    • We are also dog lovers having two labs. However, Dexter’s (at least the one in Del Mar) is extremely expensive and not practical in this economy. Most of our friends living in SEH are working to make ends meet and paying high prices on gourmet pet items just doesn’t make sense. We don’t want any of the business to fail either, but we can’t support one that will affect our personal finances. There should have been some thought put into this before leasing out to a business that would be better suited in an affluent community.

  • Yeah, heard that Subway is out, at least in Phase 1. Also see a construction company sign in the center area, hopefully meaning construction will start there as soon as Phase 1 is complete.

  • We plan on trying Windmill cleaners as long as their prices are ok.

    Happy to hear Subway is out… hopefully a pizza pub, taco shop, froyo shop are coming soon.

    If Dexter’s sells our dogs food at same price (or better) than PNC then we’ll gladly support them.

    • I agree that if Dexters will sell dog food at a reasonable price then we would also support it…..of course. I have seen the prices in Del Mar and I don’t know if that will be the case, but we’ll see!

  • Victoria Urbanowicz

    Does anyone think a card and gift store would be a good idea?

  • I think a hallmark/gift shop/flower shop combo would do well. I would support it.

  • Rich eye 4 poor guy

    I would like to open up a sidewalk tea parlour/cafe.
    Where women can have afternoon tea with the ladys, and a great tea cocktail in the evening ( called happiness hour) with the gentlemen, and the kids can have theme tea parties on the weekends. I also plan to feature live entertainment. I am looking for a partner.

  • Rich eye 4 poor guy

    I am looking for a partner.
    I would like to open up a sidewalk tea parlour/cafe.
    Where women can have afternoon tea with the ladys, and a great tea cocktail in the evening with their gentlemen ( called happiness hour) , and the kids can have theme tea parties on the weekends. I also plan to feature live entertainment.

  • The rumor is a Pizza operator is negotiating for a lease at the end unit . He’s a experienced restaurateur with several other successful businesses. He should also serve beer and wine, keep your fingers crossed.

    There have been several individuals interested in opening a “Wine Bar”, but so far none of them seemed to be the right fit and I also bet a liquor lic. can be an issue so close to the school. This has been an issue for the cafe.

    SEH development has taken a lot of care to find shop operators who have the gumption and skill to succeed…show your support and tell them San Elijo Life sent you and that they should advertise with us!

    • Oh please! Crappy shops with no forethought as to what people want and need. Just finish the town center so I can sell my money for maybe a little bit less of a loss. 8 years and counting….what a joke!

  • As one of the first residents in Westcliffe I have been very disappointed in the progress downtown. Bressi Ranch started building a couple of years at least after SEH and there little shops, stores etc. has SEH built hands down. They are moving at a much faster pace then are development. How much longer do we have to look at that tarp around the empty lots and that horrible space behind the visitor center that has weeds on it. Wine bar, people Deli, any of those would be great so we could walk down and get a nice sandwich or a drink.

  • This is unacceptable!! I’ve been a resident of SEH for 8 years and we were told that the town center would be done by the 5th year. How is it that Bressi Ranch has their town center completed with shops and they started it 2 years after SEH??? Come on guys……..pull your heads out. As far as the liquor license issue/excuse……..well DUH!!!! Your planning commission didn’t know this when the slapped in two schools right next to the “Proposed” town center? Again, excuses… seem to have a lot of those. Quit with the excuses and get our town center that we were promised DONE!!!!

  • I agree that the town center taken way to long to build. This is what happens when you live in San Marcos versus Carlsbad. Would have been nice if they had at least put some grass and trees on the dirt lots for the past 8 years so we would not have to look at weeds, dirt, rocks and a metal gate.

    I think we all moved here expecting a hometown feel with a small quaint town center and we have been fed lies the whole time. A over priced pet store, froyo shop and way to expensive dry cleaner does not make it a town center.

    We can only pray that the pizza place succeeds so other restaurants will follow. Would be great to have a small pub, bagel\coffee shop, taco shop and a cafe\diner.

  • Has there been some sort of construction going on in the middle part of the square or were they just getting ready for the rain?

  • Yes AJ is correct the connector road is now under construction. This should help!

  • That’s great, because hopefully it will help cut back on the number of people who cut through the gas station.

  • IMHO I think the pizza place will be a big hit and will eventually attract other businesses. If the food and beer are good, we’ll eat there at least twice a month.

  • I want a panera’s!!!! To have the whole town smell like bread would be heaven lol.

  • Are there any childcare/daycare facility nearby? I think there was a plan for it too.

  • There IS a childcare center across from the Vistors Center (Ragedy Ann & Andy). Unfortunately, it’s only part-time 1/2 day programs and is a lottery system. For homes where both the parents have to work, this center is useless. There is no good full time facility in SEH unless you find a home-based daycare, which we did.

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