Del Mar holds groundbreaking ceremony for new civic center


City officials and community members kicked off the construction of the new Del Mar Civic Center with a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 19 at 1050 Camino del Mar.

“The groundbreaking event was a turning point from having the Del Mar Civic Center a dream into a reality,” Mayor Sherryl Parks said.

The City Council on Sept. 6 unanimously awarded a $13.8 million construction contract to RABC-ECC, A Joint Venture.

The company is a partnership between San Diego-based R.A. Burch Construction Co. and EC Constructors, the latter of which built Del Mar’s Beach Safety Center in 2012. They have also worked on other large scale public projects, including an approximately $9 million project for Padre Dam Municipal Water District and a forthcoming $26 million project for the city of San Diego.

The city received four proposals during the bid process, which opened Aug. 8 and closed Sept. 1. RABC-ECC was deemed the lowest responsible and responsive bidder. Other bids ranged from $14.4 million to $18.1 million.

“The construction company was selected because they gave us the lowest bid, we vetted their performance record and we had worked with some of them on the safety center,” Parks said.

Demolition of the old city hall and surrounding buildings began in June and was completed by the end of July, following three years of community outreach, planning and design for the new civic center. City hall has been temporarily relocated to Southfair while the new complex is under construction.

The project includes grading and utilities, construction of a single story parking structure for 96 cars supporting two on-deck buildings — city hall and town hall— a breezeway and a plaza featuring trellises, pavers, planters, landscaping and irrigation. Plans also include a concrete masonry site wall, retaining walls, a surface parking lot for 45 cars, metal gates, landscaping, irrigation and off-site street improvements.

“It was a real milestone,” Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director, said in an interview. “Everyone here has had some role to play in bringing the new city hall to fruition. While our temporary quarters are an improvement from the old city hall, it is still challenging to have staff scattered in different offices. We’re really looking forward to the collaboration and interaction when all staff is in one space.

“And the town hall will be so special,” she added. “To have the large indoor and outdoor gathering spaces for the community will greatly improve activities, council meetings and committee meetings.”

Construction is estimated to cost $12.8 million. The total project cost is approximately $17.8 million.

In April, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) Board approved financing the majority of the project.

“Many of our community members, and of course our City Council, really championed the project,” Garcia said. “I think yesterday was a milestone for them as well. It’s very rewarding to see ideas come to fruition.”

The city worked closely with the community during the planning and design phases of the new civic center. Over the past four years, the council has discussed the project during dozens of council meetings, held four community workshops, hosted two open houses, conducted a citywide survey and conducted an online poll, among other outreach activities.

Parks said the city will continue to engage the community during the construction phase.

“There will be opportunities for the public to come down to the site and actually come onto the property to see what is happening,” she said, noting that such opportunities will be by invitation-only to ensure public safety. “This will give us all a chance to see the buildings come alive and it won’t seem to be taking so long.”

About 60 people, including city staff and community members, attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2018.

“It will be worth your wait,” Parks said.