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Del Mar’s Design Review Board hears presentation on Watermark project

A rendering of Watermark Del Mar.
A rendering of Watermark Del Mar.
( / Courtesy)

Del Mar’s Design Review Board got its first look at revised plans for a proposed multifamily development project near the Del Mar Fairgrounds during a presentation at the Feb. 24 meeting.

Located on a vacant lot at Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive, Watermark Del Mar features 48 studio- to three-bedroom single-level flats and two-story townhomes, resulting in a proposed density of roughly 20.5 units per acre. Seven of the units will be affordable, four of which will be deeded at no cost to a nonprofit organization selected by the city.

The project also includes 108 parking spaces — 96 assigned stalls for the units and 12 guest stalls — in an underground structure, a pool and spa area and a recreation room.

Property owner Watermark DM L.P. introduced the project at a July 2013 workshop. At the time, it included 54 one- to four-bedroom apartments and townhomes.

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The 2.3-acre lot is currently used for parking during events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Because the land is zoned for commercial uses, the property would have to be rezoned as residential to move the project forward.

Some neighbors have said they oppose the current plans because they believe the project contains too many units, lacks community character and violates existing height restrictions and setbacks, among other concerns. Board members briefly echoed some of these concerns, specifically related to the proposed density and height of the project.

“My concerns have to do with heights,” board member Bill Michalsky said. “The density concerns me a bit, but we’ll see where it goes,”

Only two members of the public spoke during the meeting.

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Speaking as a resident, Councilman Al Corti said he has reservations about the project, although he is in support of rezoning the site. Corti, whose property is adjacent to the project, has said he is concerned about several proposed units that would be built into the slope near his property and the surrounding Torrey pines that would likely be removed.

“There’s privacy issues, noise issues,” he said.

David Dilday, who used to live above the property, spoke in favor of the project.

“They’ve done a really nice job with the project,” he said.

The specific plan and other documents related to the project are available at www.watermarkdelmar.com.

After the city deemed the project application complete in December, the development team held two Citizens’ Participation Program meetings at the end of January.

Del Mar’s Citizens’ Participation Program was created to gather community input on development proposals early in the design review process. Following the two workshops and the informational presentation to the Design Review Board, the development team will give a presentation to the Planning Commission in March.

The development team also plans to also hold three public workshops. The first workshop will address density, affordable housing and aesthetics; the second workshop will cover traffic, pedestrian access and connectivity, and parking; and the third workshop will look at environmental issues.

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The Design Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council will then hold formal hearings on the project. If approved by the council, the project will go before the Coastal Commission.

“Thank you everybody,” said board vice chair Bruce Bekkar at the end of the discussion. “Thank you to the developer for informing us and beginning this process. We look forward to seeing future iterations.”


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