New Carmel Valley hotel proposes community amenities

On Jan. 25 the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board reviewed plans for Costa Azul, a new development that includes an Element by Westin hotel, office building and restaurant on the corner of El Camino Real and Valley Centre Drive.

The corner currently includes Hampton Inn, Residence Inn and San Diego Marriott Del Mar and in October 2017 the board approved a five-story, 127-room Hyatt Place Hotel from Excel Hotel Group which will replace the existing Tio Leo’s Mexican Restaurant.

Father-son developers Fred and Hunter Oliver, who also built the neighboring Residence Inn, are proposing the new development in the space between Hampton Inn and the new Hyatt Place.

Costa Azul is proposed as a six-story, 123-room hotel, a four-story office building with a 5,400-square-foot restaurant and a subterranean parking garage which can be accessed by Old El Camino Real, near the existing Shell station.

Architect Darrel Fullbright, with Gensler Architecture, said they came back to the board with a very different project based on what they heard from the planning board last October regarding connectivity, community benefits and the architecture.

“We listened to you,” said Fred Oliver, who has built projects in the Carmel Valley community since 1981. “We think that the project is better because of what we’ve heard from you.”

In response to the planning board’s comments that the architecture was “boxy,” Fullbright said they have considered more variation with heights and terracing. They have also added building articulations such as glass elements and created an amenity deck for the office space with views of the terrain.

To address connectivity and community benefits, they have proposed amenities such as an 8-foot-wide walkway path to and around the project from Valley Centre Drive as well as a pocket park. A pedestrian promenade will connect with the new hotel across the street and the park space will close to the potential restaurant.

The project will still be requesting a height variance as the maximum height allowed in the zone is 60 feet and 15 percent of the project is at 75 feet. As the project has evolved, the developers have brought the height down from an originally proposed 95 feet to preserve the views of the bluffs.

The developers are in the process of re-submitting their new project to the city and will be back before the board in February.