Del Mar Plaza improvements underway

Changes are on the horizon at Del Mar Plaza.
(Luke Harold)

In its secluded third-floor storefront in Del Mar Plaza, beachwear and accessory shop Coco Rose doesn’t get nearly as much foot traffic as many of the streetfront businesses along Camino Del Mar.

But with newly approved amendments to the city of Del Mar’s Plaza Specific Plan, the shopping center’s owners are working on upgrades to benefit some of the second- and third-level stores that aren’t easily visible from the street, including better signage.

“Anything we can do to get people up the stairs and into this part will radically change how things go,” said Janet Adams, manager of Coco Rose’s Del Mar Plaza location, pointing out the patio and balcony overlooking the ocean that many would-be shoppers never reach.

Other amendments to the Plaza Specific Plan include the elimination of the square-footage limitation on restaurants, a new parking plan that could include a city bikeshare program and allowing the use of the adjacent “quasi-public” spaces for special events. Del Mar Plaza owners Marc and Patty Brutten had been lobbying the city for these changes with the hope of transforming the plaza into more of a downtown hub for residents, visitors and businesses.

Adams said the Bruttens’ leadership has been encouraging for the businesses in the plaza, compared to the previous owners who were not as committed to the property’s growth.

“Having people who actually do have a plan and want to see it through, that to me is incredibly positive,” Adams said.

Those efforts, she added, included a meeting with Del Mar Plaza businesses last spring to update them on marketing initiatives and other ways they were working to boost the Del Mar Plaza, including working with the city to update the Plaza Specific Plan.

The Plaza Specific Plan amendments were vetted by the Planning Commission and several advisory committees before the Del Mar City Council gave its initial approval in August. Before the amendments took effect Oct. 9, the plan had been unchanged since 1987, when it was approved by voters. It applies specifically to the main plaza area at 1555 Camino Del Mar, the commercial property at 1435 Camino Del Mar (known as the Corner Site), and the residential units at 1516 and 1524 Luneta Drive.

Del Mar Mayor Dave Druker also praised the Bruttens for the work they’ve undertaken to improve Del Mar Plaza.

“Patty and Marc have been more engaged in the community,” he said. “Absolutely everybody is trying to make sure the plaza is successful.”

In a statement, Patty Brutten said there are some “exciting” designs planned for the deck, revamped food and beverage service, shade elements, lighting, fenestration plans and furnishings.

“Our goal was to ultimately turn the deck into what saves the plaza, instead of what was killing it,” she said.

Marc Brutten added that they “see the potential Del Mar Plaza has to boost the vitality of downtown Del Mar.”

“We look forward to enlisting changes that will appeal to current residents,” he said.