The moving trucks came and went on Friday, May 25, leaving employees to set up their desks and offices in anticipation of the opening of Del Mar's brand new civic center, the largest capital project in the city's 59-year history.
After being closed over Memorial Day weekend for the move, city offices were slated to open at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29, with lemonade and cookies to mark the historic event. A more formal grand opening is set for June 30.
The $17.8 million project came in within budget and on time, said Assistant City Manager Kristen Crane, who oversaw planning and construction.
The civic center - at Camino Del Mar and 10th Street - includes a 3,000-square-foot town hall where the City Council and city committees will meet; a 9,000-square-foot city hall housing such departments as planning, administrative services, finance, code enforcement and the city manager's office; and a 13,000-square-foot plaza that will host events such as a weekly farmers market, as well as serving as a de facto park where the public can enjoy panoramic ocean views.
"I really hope the community will see this as an asset for themselves, a beautiful place for them to come and enjoy," said Crane.
The town hall, where the council will hold its first meeting on Monday, June 4, was designed with an open floor plan to allow it to be used for everything from public meetings to events by Del Mar nonprofit groups (a commercial kitchen/employee lunchroom in city hall can be used to cater events).
The council dais was custom designed for the space, and is made of three sections on wheels that can be rolled away into a storage room at the back of the hall when needed. Chairs for audience members are not fixed and can also be stacked and stored.
Along one side of the town hall is a glass wall that can slide open to connect with an adjacent covered breezeway to expand the space for large events. At the back, wood and earth-toned materials invoke nature.
Above the town hall, a rooftop deck provides stunning ocean views.
"This is my favorite spot in the house," said Crane. "It has an awesome view and will be a great place to sit for the sunset, reading a book or talking with a friend."
The city has ordered outdoor furniture for the plaza and roof deck, which will arrive in the coming weeks. Also planned are the placement of solar panels and a battery storage system - funded primarily through a state grant - that will provide most of the power needed by the civic center during the day, as well as power for up to five hours during the evening when meetings are held.
Tucked away out of site beneath the plaza is an underground parking structure, which, together with a rear surface lot, will have 140 parking spaces, that can be used by city hall during the day and by the public at night and on weekends.
When visitors enter the city hall building, which fronts on the plaza, they will come to a counter where city staff can assist them with a variety of functions. Behind the counter, a glass partition provides a view of the main, open floor plan of the city office. Private offices line the space around the open section in the center, and windows at the back of the building provide another view of the sea.
About two dozen full-time employees, as well as some part-time workers, will be assigned to the new city hall. Workers from some departments, such as lifeguards, firefighters and public works employees, work from other locations.
The move to the new civic center went smoothly, with the workers installing the city's IT servers in the new building on Thursday, May 24, followed by trucks bringing boxes of files, computers and other items on Friday, May 25, said Crane. Some furniture was transported, but the bulk of the furnishings for the new civic center were purchased new, Crane said.
The city financed the new civic center with about $2 million in cash, along with a low interest, 30-year loan from the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or IBank, which operates under the jurisdiction of the California governor's office.
Construction of the new civic center - at the site of the former, dilapidated city hall - began in September 2016. The city has been operating out of leased space in Del Mar for the past two years.