Nestled amidst the vibrant streets of Carlsbad, a remarkable transformation has taken place, breathing new life into a beloved landmark. Once home to an antique mall that stood for decades, this space has been revitalized by the visionary efforts of Brendan Foote and his real estate development company, FABRIC. As I arrived at the site for our interview, the air buzzed with the energy of a thriving community hub. Lofty Coffee, a coffee shop born from the adaptive reuse project, beckoned passersby with its enticing aroma and welcoming atmosphere. Despite the overcast skies, every outdoor seat was occupied, revealing the profound impact of Foote’s passion for repurposing spaces and creating engaging community environments.
Discovering North County Gems
There are plenty of great spaces just like this in North County, and Foote urges readers to embark on a journey of exploration in their own backyard to discover them. In a world often dominated by daily routines and self-imposed bubbles, Foote’s advice is a gentle reminder to break free from monotony and embrace the wonders that lie just beyond our comfort zones.
“There are so many cool little spots throughout North County from Escondido to Oceanside to Del Mar,” said Foote. “It’s important for people to continue to explore and try new places and things. It also helps a lot of the small businesses that are trying to gain an audience.”
Foote’s admiration for North County extends beyond its picturesque landscapes and culinary treasures to the vibrant creativity that thrives in this region. He sees North County as a hub of fresh ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.
Cultivating Creative Communities
FABRIC actively contributes to this vibrant culture of creativity in by undertaking adaptive reuse projects in coastal North County, transforming older buildings into new and innovative spaces that align with the evolving needs of the community, while still maintaining the buildings’ character and charm.
“We like to preserve history when we can, which I think gives these neighborhoods a sense of authenticity, and we like to create gathering places,” said Foote. “Our projects tend to foster community. One of the best parts of a project is to finish it and see people interacting with each other there, when they may have never stepped foot on this property previously.”
Innovative Reuse, Coastal Charm
Since FABRIC only undertakes local projects – focusing more on which neighborhood they’d like to be working in and determining which type of development would be right for the area – Foote often gets to personally witness the buzzing activity at those projects once they are completed.
“It’s very rewarding developing in the areas where you actually frequent. You get to experience what you’re doing and see people who you know from the community experiencing the projects as well,” explained Foote.
Surf Labs, Tremont Collective
One of FABRIC’s current projects is called “Surf Labs,” which is an expansion of a previous office project office and life science lab for Tyra Biosciences projected to be completed in October 2023. The project consists of two ground-up buildings and the adaptive reuse of the former Beach City Auto garage totaling 10,000 square feet.
“This firm in Carlsbad Village is really making a lot of progress with a potential drug to combat bladder cancer, among other scientific breakthroughs. The fact that we get to be a part of that story by creating this space in which they are innovating … it’s super rewarding,” said Foote.
Another FABRIC adaptive reuse project, Tremont Collective, recently won an Excellence in North County Economic Development award for transforming three historic auto repair garages into a vibrant mixed-use project with retail, restaurants, an event space, and creative office. These projects underscore FABRIC’s belief that “thoughtful development can enhance the fabric of neighborhoods for generations to come.”
Overcoming Challenges, Maximizing Value
Developing in North County Coastal market does pose unique challenges, but Foote believes those challenges ultimately provide FABRIC with an opportunity to bring value to their customers. By concentrating their efforts in Carlsbad and Oceanside, FABRIC has gained a deep understanding of the two cities’ public processing procedures; fostered relationships with key stakeholders; and incorporated local culture and resident feedback into their projects.
“Change is hard for a lot of people,” said Foote. “I appreciate those that show up to the community meetings and voice their opinion. I’d rather have somebody show up and be a part of the process, so we can integrate some ideas into what we’re doing.”
From Tax Consulting to Development
Foote hasn’t always been in the development industry. He owned and operated a small consulting company from 2007-2011 before realizing traditional accounting didn’t fully tap into his creative side, and he had always been interested in architecture and design.
Drawing upon his experience in the tax credit business (which exposed him to the dynamics of small businesses and community engagement), he decided to pursue real estate development. Rather than working for an established developer, Foote chose to learn through his own experiences, leading him to establish FABRIC in 2013.
As managing principal of FABRIC, Foote is chiefly responsible for project and asset management. With four projects currently under construction, he monitors progress, budgets, and makes crucial, real-time decisions. He also oversees the management of long-term hold projects. Fostering the personal and professional growth of his team is also an important focus for him. Considering all of Foote’s myriad of duties, he is thankful to be so close to project sites, allowing for daily visits and hands-on quality control.
Embracing North County’s Spirit
Growing up in Denver, Foote first came to San Diego to visit extended family as a child. When it came time to choose a college, the University of San Diego was his top choice.
“I think once you spend a good amount of time here, you try to do everything you can to figure out a way to stay,” he said. While he’s lived in a handful of different places in the county, Foote appreciates the down-to-earth nature he experiences in North County.
“People I meet who live in North County have a really good sense of balance in their life, which I think is kind of underrated,” said Foote. “It’s good to be grounded by people who are cognizant of their life balance, and it’s something we want to carry into our company.”
Read the story covering Davin Waite, executive chef in Oceanside here for more content.
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About the Author
Caitlyn Canby loves to discover and share people’s stories. She has her bachelor’s degree in Communications, Print Journalism with over 8 years of journalism experience. An Escondido native, she just moved back from Catalina Island to North County with her husband and two children to the town of Fallbrook. Caitlyn enjoys collaborating on projects as Marketing and Events Coordinator at SDNEDC, traveling, and exploring new restaurants, venues, experiences, and cultures.