By Karen Billing
San Diego Councilmember Sherri Lightner can’t wait to shop at Pacific Highlands Ranch’s incoming Trader Joe’s. At the April 16 groundbreaking ceremony for the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, Lightner said the specialty market was a big “yes” for the community and she hoped to meet everyone there as soon as it opens in 2015.
“This groundbreaking is wonderful news for Pacific Highlands Ranch and Carmel Valley,” Lightner said. “Residents have been waiting for a village center for many years.”
Lightner’s enthusiasm was shared by many of the attendees at the groundbreaking, including Tom Blake, founder and president of Coast Income Properties, who expressed his excitement at finally getting to put a gold shovel to dirt on the project.
The ground had already technically been broken by machinery already at work for the last few weeks, but Blake said the ceremony was more of a recognition and thank you for all who helped make it happen.
“This truly is the heart of Pacific Highlands Ranch, it’s where people are going to go and where they’re going to gather,” Blake said. “We’re excited to help be a part of that community.”
Blake said they are hopeful the first phase of the project will be complete in 2015 with the first tenants (Trader Joe’s included) open by the first or second quarter of next year.
Planning on the project has been in play since 2007, at one time the village included a contested movie theater. Coast Income has been on board since late 2012 when it bought the property from Pardee Homes and felt the plan, which was approved by San Diego City Council in 2010, could use some tweaking to be more successful.
“We wouldn’t be here as quickly as we have been if not for the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, especially Frisco White and Manjeet Ranu,” Blake said. “We came to them with changes to the plan and they gave us a lot of great direction.”
In changing the 2010-approved plans, Coast Income Properties removed the theater, planned for a Trader Joe’s and a drug store rather than a full-service grocery store, added more residential units to bring it to 331 multi-family units and lowered some building heights in response to neighbors’ concerns.
The plan now features a variety of restaurants and soft goods retailers, a possible health club and day spa, and a town square gathering spot with a long weeping water wall, an interactive water feature, three fireplaces and outdoor living room furniture.
There will be also be an open, grassy village green with trails and passive seating areas, and the potential for community gardens or a bocce ball court.
Ranu said he is excited that the community is closer to “realizing the dream that’s going to complete their neighborhood.”
“It was a long road to get here but we were all determined to realize the vision of the community sooner rather than later. I commend Coast Income for working so closely with the community to create something we will enjoy very much and their willingness to listen to our feedback,” Ranu said. “This project is a reflection of the residents who live here and it will be a community space we can be proud of for years to come.”