Del Mar Foundation steps up with $125,000 grant for new civic center

The Del Mar Foundation is pitching in to the city’s fast-approaching city hall and civic center in a big way, bestowing a $125,000 grant that will pay for an array of finishing touches so that residents and local nonprofits can better enjoy the 30,000 square-foot civic space when it opens in a few months.

With several board members on hand, the foundation bestowed the grant — the largest ever in the nonprofit’s 35-year history — at the Del Mar City Council’s Jan. 16 meeting.

The foundation has been an ardent supporter of the sometimes-controversial project ever since the city committed not to scant administrative uses but to a grander vision for a “true community gathering spot,” said board president Bob Gans. The long-planned project is transforming 1.5 acres on Camino Del Mar into nearly 30,000 square feet of civic space that includes a 9,000-square-foot city hall, a 3,000-square-foot town hall and a public plaza that will span roughly 15,000 square feet.

Calling the project “a once-in-a-generation undertaking,” Gans thanked the foundation’s board members, volunteers and donors for making the grant — and all of the foundation’s activities — possible.

“Our volunteers and donors simply love Del Mar, and through their commitment to the foundation, they reminds us of how much unites the inhabitants of our little town,” he said.

The city hall and civic center is the most expensive capital endeavor Del Mar has ever attempted. It is on course to meet its $17.5 million budget and on schedule to complete construction in mid-April, followed by several weeks to move in. That budget, however, does not cover a range of amenities slated for many of the project’s shared spaces, a list of needs that includes $30,000 to equip the town hall’s catering kitchen; $40,000 for tables, chairs, a portable stage, a dance floor and audio equipment; and another $50,000 for outdoor furniture and umbrellas in the plaza.

Mayor Dwight Worden likened the foundation’s contribution to community-driven campaigns that restored the Del Mar Library and built Powerhouse Community Center, and thanked the foundation for enriching the legacy residents will feel when they look back in 10 and 20 years on how the massive project came together.

“What else can I say other than ‘We’re stoked,’” Worden said.