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Plans underway for vacant Carmel Valley lot

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The vacant Pell property is being developed as a research and development center.
Karen Billing

A life science research and development complex is being proposed for the vacant lot at the corner of El Camino Real and Townsgate Drive in Carmel Valley.

At the Carmel Valley Community Planning board’s Jan. 24 meeting, the board approved the initiation of a community plan amendment from a “town center” designation to “employment center” in order to allow for a research and development use. The vote was 7-1 with Steve Davison voting against it.

The approval was not consent for the entire project, it will now go through the planning board’s design subcommittee as it works through the city process.

“I think this is a great use for this area, there’s plenty of retail now with One Paseo and the Del Mar Highlands expansion,” said Kim Elliott, assistant vice president of real estate development and community relations for Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Known as the “Pell property,” the property sits on the edge of the Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s 120,000-square-foot expansion. The fenced-in site with red buildings partially concealed by overgrown shrubs and trees had a caretaker living on the site for years but the buildings are now unoccupied since the site was purchased by Alexandria.

Alexandria specializes in developments for life science and technology companies nationwide—sample tenants in its San Diego campuses include Illumina, Celgene Corporation, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the Scripps Research Institute. The Alexandria Tech Center at Torrey Pines houses the Farmer and the Seahorse restaurant.

Carmel Valley Planning Board Chair Frisco White said Alexandria’s proposed concept for Carmel Valley is “interesting and unique” as an incubator space for scientists. Elliott said Alexandria is excited to enter the market as there are few other research and development opportunities in Carmel Valley.

Elliott noted that site recently received a notice from brush management so they will work on clearing the brush on the site. Demolition of the old ranch houses (which were not determined to have historical significance) has not yet been scheduled.