Del Mar City Council hears reports on city hall space needs

By Kristina Houck

Moving forward with plans to build a new city hall to replace the city’s current facilities, the City Council on April 21 heard two reports on space needs for Del Mar’s government and community facilities.

The council on March 17 approved an architectural contract with Carrier Johnson Architects to provide a professional opinion of the space necessary to plan for a new city hall, assess earlier staff estimates and define a program for cost estimation. Del Mar-based Leeger Architecture volunteered to offer a second opinion.

“This gives me a lot more feeling of confidence that we’re doing a complete job on the program,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “Initial numbers are good, but to have two different independent consultants go at it nitty-gritty and pull the numbers together is very, very valuable.”

Currently, Del Mar’s facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar total approximately 11,892 total gross square feet of space in multiple locations, including city hall, council chambers, the annex building, the IT trailer and the south building. The south building is unusable due to safety concerns. The city’s administrative offices currently utilize approximately 8,086 gross square feet of space within multiple buildings on the property, including shared space with the community.

The two independent consultants identified space needs between 8,395 and 10,837 gross square feet for a city hall facility. For a town hall with community meeting rooms and council chambers, they recommended between 4,313 and 5,046 gross square feet.

Council members agreed the right size for Del Mar is somewhere between the two recommendations.

“I agree that I’d like to bounce both estimates together,” Sinnott said. “There’s a compromise there between the two.”

Wanting to move forward with the process, Deputy Mayor Al Corti made a motion to direct the architects to design both the city hall and administrative offices, including space for the farmer’s market, totaling no more than 15,000 square feet. Sinnott seconded the motion, but the rest of the council opposed the motion.

“If we do that we’re getting ahead of the community and we’re going to have a lot of backlash,” said Mayor Lee Haydu. “I don’t want the backlash [to] come back [so] that we don’t do anything. That’s what could happen.”

Staff will return to council on May 5 with further information, including cost estimates for the construction of a city hall, town hall, plaza and parking.