Preliminary work has started on a more than $200 million Oceanside attraction – OceanKamp – that its developer says will be on a par with SeaWorld and Legoland in bringing tourists to San Diego County.
“Wave parks are kind of a new phenomenon but it’s been sweeping the globe,” said Jon Corn, CEO of N4FL Development, the company that is building OceanKamp. “There’s only about eight or 10 in existence but they’ve all done phenomenally well.”
Built around a wave lagoon, the project is located on the former Valley Drive-In Theater property at 3480 Mission Ave.
Bordered roughly by North Foussat Road, State Road 76 and the San Luis Rey Bike Path, OceanKamp will include a 300-room hotel partially made up of Airstream trailers, 700 homes in a mix of apartments, condominiums and townhomes, a conference center, 134,000 square feet of commercial space, a mile and a half of trails and 20 acres of open space.
“The hope is that the retail tenants will be from the action sports world so they’ll be complementary of the wave park,” Corn said.
The wave lagoon itself including a sandy beach would cover 3½ acres and could be used by bathers and paddle-boarders when it’s not used for surfing.
“The beauty of it is when the wave machine is not operating, it’s going to be a nice peaceful lagoon that you could swim in, paddleboard in or other things,” Corn said. “When the wave machine is generating waves, it would be more like an ocean experience for surfers, body boarders, even kids who want to play on the beach.”
As part of the project, the developer will upgrade Prince Memorial Skate Park, which is across the street from OceanKamp. The improvements will include new landscaping and lighting.
The project was unanimously approved by the Oceanside City Council and the Oceanside Planning Commission, with actual construction still about two to three years away, Corn said.
“There’s a lot of things that are going to be happening between now and then,” Corn said. “We have about a year of engineering ahead of us, which is to figure out all the utility alignments.”
‘Flawless Surf Session’
Corn said that a big draw of wave lagoons is that they provide “a flawless surf session every time you go.”
“In a 55-minute session, you’re going to get 15 perfect waves,” Corn said. “For that reason, they lend themselves well to competition.”
Corn said that wave lagoons also are suitable for adaptive surfing for disabled surfers.
The waves are typically created through a system of vacuums and blowers that suck water into towers then push it out at half-second intervals. “The length of your ride is going to be about 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds doesn’t sound very long but if you go down and watched surfers in the oceans, the typical ride is only three to four seconds,” Corn said. “It’s just a blast.”
The Airstream trailers that are part of the project would be permanently anchored to the site.
“It’s not a mobile home park. It’s essentially you create a community of Airstreams and people rent those,” Corn said. “They’re going to operate like hotels rooms. Most likely they’ll be managed by the hotel.”
Scott Ashton, executive officer of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, said the project will bring needed tax revenue, housing and new business to the city.
“If it could be built tomorrow, that would be great,” Ashton said. “When we can bring a project into our community that’s going to support our other small businesses and provide additional resources for the quality of life, it’s a win-win.”
OceanKamp “really enhances surfing in our community,” Ashton added. “It’s going to provide great training opportunities for our young surfers, and that’s super exciting.”
The 2028 Olympics are scheduled for Los Angeles and Corn said his hope is that OceanKamp can be used as a training site for the surfing competition.
“We’re hopeful that our wave pool will be chosen as a place for qualifying rounds and a place for Olympic team practices and also for other competitions,” Corn added.
N4FL Development, Inc.
CEO: Jon Corn
Headquarters: Solana Beach
Business: Real Estate development
Social impact: N4FL supports numerous organizations, charities and causes, including the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, the California Surf Museum and Oceanside’s Finest Basketball Club.
Notable: N4FL Development owns and develops a diverse portfolio of residential, commercial and industrial projects throughout California.