By Kristina Houck and Karen Billing
To improve parking at Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley, a new parking structure is set to open by late 2015. Plans for the construction of the structure, as well as plans to expand Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas and renovate the south side of the shopping center, were unveiled during the April 24 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting.
All but one of the center’s businesses will remain open during construction, which is set to begin in the fall. Most of the businesses impacted by construction will be moved to temporary locations, but Barnes & Noble will close its doors when the store’s lease expires in July, according to Elizabeth Schreiber, vice president and general manager for Donahue Schriber, owner and operator of Del Mar Highlands Town Center.
“We would love to have them come back when we finish this work,” said Schreiber, who noted the center doesn’t have another space to temporarily relocate the 11,000-square-foot store. “Who knows what the book business will be like by that time, but we’d love to have Barnes & Noble or any bookstore come back to the shopping center.”
“The community will be very sorry to see Barnes & Noble go,” said board member Laura Copic.
Parking has been a problem at the center since it underwent a $20 million overhaul in 2010 and 2011. The center’s “re-imagining” brought in several new restaurants and stores, a luxury movie theater and many more visitors, Schreiber said.
“That renovation has been tremendously successful,” Schreiber said. “In many ways, we’re victims of our own success. All those restaurants, the theater, all our great retailers have been very well received. Therefore, now, we have a parking problem.”
To improve parking, the center added 200 stalls and converted compact spaces to standard spaces. The center also implemented short-term parking, valet services, shuttle services, curbside pickup at restaurants and an employee parking program.
“We did as many things as we could think of to implement right away,” Schreiber said. “Although I think those ideas have helped, they’re not the ultimate solution. The ultimate solution is to build a parking structure.”
The three-level parking structure will be constructed behind the center on Townsgate Drive. Because of the elevation between the center and the street, the third level of the structure will be at grade, Schreiber said.
The parking structure will feature 600 parking stalls, which will bring the center’s total number of parking spaces to 2,200.
The structure will have four entrances, including one in between Urban Plates that will be accessible from the front of the center. It will also feature trellises, landscaping, benches and three towers with elevators and staircases.
“We’re going to make every effort to architecturally make this very appealing,” Schreiber said.
During construction, the center will expand the current eight-plex Cinepolis, adding three screens and 10,000 square feet of space. (Cinepolis is the number one performing eight-plex movie theater in the country, according to Schreiber.) The center will also build a new facility for KinderCare adjacent to the parking structure. KinderCare will remain at its existing 20-year-old site until construction of the new location is complete.