Del Mar, Winston School closing in on terms of redevelopment

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council gave The Winston School a 45-day extension to submit its development application with modification requested by council members during their May 17 meeting.

The city is the school’s landlord on the Shores property, and the lease specifies redevelopment milestones that has caused some controversy between the two sides. Del Mar Mayor Terry Gaasterland said there is one question for the city to determine: “Is rebuilding all the buildings being fulfilled in spirit?”

According to the city, the remaining sticking points include definitive plans for one of the school buildings, a parking plan and a landscaping plan.

“We’re not there yet, but there are some things that can be done to get there,” Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden said.

But representatives from the school have said their plan meets the requirements of the lease.

“I understand it may feel like somewhat of a disappointment to some people that we’re not building a complete new campus here,” said Jon Dominy, an architect representing The Winston School. “But in our minds, we’re making the best of the buildings that are there, and they’re going to appear as new buildings when they’re done. They are going to be completely restored with modern amenities.”

Dena Harris, The Winston School’s head of school, added that “we’ve been going on this for quite some time and the goal post keeps moving.”

“I hear what you’re saying and what you would like, but I don’t believe that’s what is required to do this remodel,” she said.

The City Council then took a 50-minute recess so Gaasterland, Councilwoman Tracy Martinez, city staff and Winston’s representatives could privately hash out a motion. The motion requires the school to provide more detail about its redevelopment plans for “Building 5,” which is the school’s southernmost building, and two modular buildings. It also asks the school to address parking.

The Winston School has been a tenant at the Shores property since 1988, and participated in the fundraising that helped the city purchase the property in 2008. The school’s fundraising total was used as rent credit. A 2010 lease set the terms of redevelopment that are now being worked out.

The city previously granted extensions for the redevelopment plan due date last October, when the school’s plan was originally due, and January. The school has cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a complication in adhering to the original timeline specified in the lease.