New mixed-use center planned for Carmel Valley

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Early renderings for Merge, a proposed mixed use center on Carmel Country and Carmel Mountain roads. Courtesy

By Karen Billing

A new mixed-use center is being planned for the Carmel Country Highlands area. Called Merge, the center looks to combine 10 townhomes, 25,000 square feet of office and 21 upper floor flats over 10,000 square feet of retail on a 4-acre lot at the corner of Carmel Country and Carmel Mountain roads.

“When we sat down to design this property we realized we have a very unique opportunity. This is a community that really needs a hub,” said developer Gary Levitt, who reviewed his plans with the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s regional issues subcommittee on Feb. 6.

Levitt has named the project Merge to reflect how he hopes it will bring all types of uses together. Levitt envisions friends meeting for coffee, and neighbors riding bikes with their kids to breakfast or walking to dinner.

Levitt said he feels his residential products will again create the “merge,” as the spaces could appeal to bachelors, young couples, small families or empty nesters looking to downsize but remain in the Carmel Valley community.

He hopes retail uses and the tenants of his unique office spaces will utilize a planned central green area.

“We’re very proud of this,” Levitt said. “I love the opportunity to work with all the uses over here and I think we can be a real asset to the community.”

With his residential units, he wanted to avoid people looking into each other’s homes, so he gave every unit indoor/outdoor connectivity. The townhomes, which will face Drycliff Trail, will feature detached garages with a private yard between the home and the garage.

Levitt also wants to be unique with his office spaces, noting that there have been changes in the office environment—there’s less of a focus on everyone having their own office, people are doing more collaborative work.

To that end, Levitt wants to create flexible use space, where people could be working in a group on laptops around a table. The spaces will be concrete ceiling and floors with glass all around and the tenants will be able to create the space they need.

“It’s something different and unique that you won’t find in Del Mar or Carmel Valley,” said Scott Maas, associate principal at Safdie Rabines Architects, the project architect.

Safdie Rabines’ work can be seen locally at the Carmel Valley Northwestern Division station, Scripps Seaside Forum in La Jolla and the Eleanor Roosevelt College at UC San Diego.

Maas said the plan with the green space is to use beautiful native landscaping, trees and moveable furniture so that the people at Merge can define how they want to use the space. The offices and homes will look out onto the green space and the retail spaces will face Carmel Mountain Road as well as the courtyard.

“That engages the space,” Maas said. “It creates a buzz and generates activity.”

The committee, as well as neighbors in attendance, voiced concerns about the project’s architecture. The look, from preliminary renderings, is modern with flat roofs and big tall windows.

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