Three New Projects To Energize Downtown Solana Beach
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Plans for Solana Beach’s commercial district are coming together with three new projects in the works that will add to the eclectic ambiance of the Cedros Avenue Design District and help enhance pedestrian activity.
The developments include a 26K SF mixed-use project on a 40K SF site formerly occupied by Cedros Gardens, redevelopment of the Solana Beach Transit Center to a transit-oriented, mixed-use project and three luxury, zero-lot-line residential units.
Formerly an industrial district, Cedros Avenue is lined with historic Quonset hut-style buildings erected during World War II by the military, creating the setting for this upscale, pedestrian-friendly retail district, which includes 85 boutiques, restaurants, artisans, decorators, antique dealers and entertainment establishments, including the famous Belly Up Tavern nightclub. The few remaining industrial buildings in the area are occupied by furniture designers, art studios and iron works. Home furnishings and design retailer West Elm recently announced plans to open a store in a brick warehouse here.
“This is a very cool street with interesting shops, outdoor retail spaces and unique Quonset hut architecture,” said Adam Robinson, principal at RAF Pacifica Group, the developer of 330 Cedros, a 26K SF mixed-use project.
"This is a big, exciting project that’s ready to go,“ city planning director Bill Chopyk said.
He said 330 Cedros, along with the train station redevelopment, will help energize the city’s central business district.
“Solana Beach is in the midst of tremendous economic growth and revitalization,” Robinson said.
A portion of Highway 101 parallel to Cedros Avenue and part of the commercial district recently underwent a $7M overhaul to reconfigure it as a community-oriented, pedestrian-friendly corridor. The South Cedros Improvement District has installed new streetlights, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and underground utilities, and the city is in the process of expanding its network of bicycle lanes and trails.
RAF Pacifica recently acquired the project site from local developer Sean McLeod, who had originally secured entitlements for the project.
“I’m excited about this project, because it has a really great design,” Robinson said.
Its contemporary Quonset hut design fits into the district’s existing architecture, he said. The project will break ground in five months.
“MacLeod laid the foundation for the design and development of this project, and worked with the city council to ensure that it will meet the city’s objectives,” he said. “Drawing upon our deep development expertise, we plan to bring this vision to fruition.”
RAF Pacifica is known for building unique, high-quality industrial flex projects in Carlsbad. Now the firm is expanding into mixed-use and the Solana Beach market.
“We recognize the potential in this market and plan to capitalize on the demand for more outdoor dining options by delivering a high-end restaurant within a vibrant coastal setting,” Robinson said. "In doing so, we will be creating our own micro-community and supporting the current transformation underway in Solana Beach.
"Our strategy is to own the best properties in the tightest markets, so in a bad market cycle our assets remain viable,” Robinson said. “The market is cyclical, so we want options like this coast-based, mixed-use project.”
His firm is also repositioning an older motel in Encinitas to a 41-room boutique hotel.
Chopyk said 3 on Cedros, a luxury-residential project that consists of three detached 2,600 SF, zero-lot-line homes designed by T7 Architecture, is already under construction. This project, which is being developed by a partnership of Canter Development and CalCoast Development, is on Cedros Avenue between the Del Mar Racetrack and Cedros Design District.
The Solana Beach Transit Center will be a transformational project for the city, Chopyk said, but the city council is still waiting for the North County Transit District, which owns the Solana Beach Transit Center site, to present the final design. This project will be on the current transit station site on North Cedros Avenue between Lomas Santa Fe Drive and Cliff Street, but would also provide access from Highway 101.
Four developers had initially responded to the NCTD request for proposals last year with competing designs for a mix of parking, retail and residential uses for the 5.6-acre site. The top-ranked design was presented to the city council last fall by Strategic Assets Group’s design team.
Design team leader Torgen Johnson, a Solana Beach architect, said the latest version of the design proposal follows the city’s 35-page design guidelines for the site, with size, scale and layout of the proposed buildings similar to existing structures in nearby neighborhoods. Torgen said the design, which retains the existing Quonset-style train station as required, would connect surrounding neighborhoods, with the ultimate goal of bringing the successful renaissance of South Cedros Avenue to the largely underdeveloped area north of Lomas Santa Fe.
The 108K SF project calls for 48K SF of restaurants, shops and offices, a 30K SF boutique hotel and 30 apartments. It includes a three-story, partially below-grade parking structure that provides 750 parking spaces for commuters and 325 spaces for residents, shoppers, office employees and visitors, as well as 89 diagonal spaces on the street.