Article originally appeared in The Coast News
DEL MAR — The comments were mostly positive at a recent community participation workshop for a proposed mixed-use project on a vacant lot in the south end of the city. Thirty-five residents attended the second and final workshop March 21.
But many residents still have concerns about density, parking, traffic and view blockage.
Del Mar-based Kitchell Development Company initially planned to build a boutique hotel at 941 Camino del Mar, on a parcel once home to a gas station but more recently referred to as the Garden Del Mar site, named for a previously approved office and retail complex that died on the vine.
Development team member Marne Bouillon describes the features of the latest development proposed for the old gas station site in the south end of Del Mar at a recent workshop seeking community input. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
Based on input from the first workshop in January 2017, Kitchell submitted an application for a two-story “flexible-use” project that will include office, retail and potential restaurant space and “residential hospitality” units.
Don Glatthorn, Kitchell vice president, described the latter as condominiums that would be sold to individual owners who could live there or rent them out full or part time.
Because the development will have an on-site manager and full concierge service, Glatthorn said the units could provide “worry-free second homeownership.”
Unlike a hotel condo, he said, the units could be used for permanent residency because they will be slightly bigger and have kitchens.
The latest design also features a floral or garden shop that would feature a coffee bar, wine bar and/or small-plates kitchen with intertwined seating that could be rented for private parties.
Two units will be deemed affordable. There will be underground parking.
Concerns raised at the first workshop included height, view blockage and noise from late-night activities.
In response, the developer said the proposed height and mass would be similar to what was approved for Garden Del Mar, and the project was not expected to be a late-night destination.
One resident at the second workshop said the two front buildings would completely block his or her primary ocean, scenic and city views.
Kitchell representatives said the roof design will be lowered in certain areas to address view blockage, and the effect on neighboring views will be further evaluated as part of the formal application.
“We would like it to be zero impact, but obviously, when you put a building anywhere it’s going to have some impact on some people,” Glatthorn said.
Six attendees praised the project, with one saying it “looks beautiful and will be a wonderful improvement to our community.”
Another asked that the development be built as soon as possible.
“I am a neighbor who is tired of looking into this terrible empty lot,” another person wrote.
“The general concept makes a lot more sense than the previous project,” resident Betty Wheeler said. “It’s a good location for hybrid residential and short-term rentals. The devil, of course, is in the details.”
Glatthorn said vacation rentals would have to go through the on-site manager and not online booking sites such as Airbnb.
The project will be developed under a specific plan, which requires voter approval. Glatthorn said he would like to get it on the November ballot, but he said that’s an aggressive goal.
Approvals are also required from Del Mar’s Planning Commission, Design Review Board and City Council, as well as the California Coastal Commission.
At best, Glatthorn said, it will be at least two to three years before groundbreaking.
Ethan Langan, Del Mar’s assistant planner, said the recent workshop is just the beginning of a long process.
“There will be many other opportunities for feedback,” he added.
“It’s looking very pretty,” said Deborah Lyon, who lives behind the proposed development.