Mar 14, 2017
A local development team has taken the first step toward transforming a prime oceanfront site on the Del Mar bluffs into a resort that would also include a public park.
The Robert Green Company, which just opened the upscale Pendry Hotel in downtown San Diego, is teaming with Encinitas-based Zephyr, a housing developer, to acquire seven parcels of land located just south of Solana Beach, north of Del Mar dog beach and west of the fairgrounds.
Currently owned by three different families and under private ownership for at least the last century, the triangular-shaped piece of land has long been occupied by only a couple of gated homes, while the northernmost piece remains vacant. Adjoining the site are four acres of city-owned land laced with winding walking trails.
The Encinitas developers announced last week they have entered into a long-term agreement with the landowners to acquire and develop their property, culminating more than a year-long effort to strike a deal.
They have yet to formulate specific development plans but the centerpiece would be a luxury resort that could be complemented with hotel-branded villas, restaurants and walkways, not unlike the concept behind the Montage blufftop resort in Laguna Beach.
“I was born and raised in San Diego, and until a year ago, I had never set foot on this property because it’s all private,” said Robert Green, whose downtown hotel project was a partnership with Pendry’s parent company, Montage International.
“One could just build 25 super luxury single-family homes, but that would mean the only people who could enjoy that property would be those 25 families. The idea of building a luxury hotel is much better for the community, financially, but it also opens up the property to public access forever so anyone can come and stay there, and dine there.
One of the three property owners had earlier received approval to convert a portion of the land into five gated mansions, but those plans are now on hold, said Brad Termini, CEO of Zephyr, which specializes in luxury mixed-use housing projects on the coast.
“We went to the city and said it would be a shame to have that site closed off to the public for another 100 years, so we want to introduce a plan that has exceptional public benefits and welcomes the community to the site, rather than a plan that gates large mansions for the next 100 years, said Termini, whose company is currently building a 168-unit condo project near Doheny State Beach in Dana Point.
Before the developers even map out specifics of the project, they will be meeting with the surrounding community, including neighboring residents in Solana Beach to solicit input. Dates have not been set, but the city of Del Mar requires such community feedback before projects are designed.
While there have been inquiries in the past from developers about building out the blufftop land with a hotel, the Green-Zephyr project marks the first formal undertaking of such a development, said Del Mar City Manager Scott Huth.
“Our hope is that the public can walk between the proposed project and the edge of the bluff to enjoy those views, and the developers know that’s a goal and they’re embracing that,” he said.
“This property has good access to the highway and fairgrounds nearby but there will also be challenges. It’s how you design something that works in the community and also addresses neighbors’ concerns in Solana Beach. It’s going to be a very delicate combination of listening and coming up with a design that doesn’t increase impacts to the communities around them.”
Development of a hotel, though, is several years off, considering the need for an environmental impact report and a lengthy entitlement process that would include a hearing before the California Coastal Commission.
“We’re in the first stage of a very long road,” said Termini, “so it’s difficult to provide timing on this.”
Thank you for your registration. A Zephyr team member will be in contact with you shortly to answer any questions you have have about our communities or company.