The City Council on Wednesday took another step toward creation of a downtown civic center, approving a design competition for the $17-million project.

The council’s unanimous action establishes a road map of sorts for competing architects. The center will house administrative offices, a library and a fire station in buildings totaling approximately 130,000 square feet.

The competition, similar to one held last year to select an architect for Escondido’s civic and cultural center, is outlined in a thick document that presents a broad profile of Oceanside, from history to traffic and weather information. Also outlined are the city’s space and parking needs, as well as a philosophical view on the impact the center should have on the downtown area.

Civic leaders expect the campus-style center, to be built on a three-block site bounded by 3rd, 4th, Nevada and Hill streets, to boost Oceanside’s image and serve as an important catalyst for downtown redevelopment.


Next week, the council will announce the names of five architectural firms selected to compete in the final round of the design competition. Those five will submit their designs in January, and a jury of architectural experts and civic leaders will name a winner after public exhibition and community hearings. The winner will get a $10,000 prize--and, most likely, a contract.

City officials expect to begin construction of the center in December, 1986, and hope to move in two years later. Condemnation of businesses along Hill Street, the center’s western border, is already under way. The project is being financed through the sale of redevelopment bonds.