Del Mar City Council hears reports on renovation costs, other sites for city hall

By Kristina Houck

It would cost Del Mar about $5.8 million to renovate its current facilities instead of building a new city hall and civic center, according to a report presented to the City Council on June 2.

The renovation project estimates include renovation construction costs, as well as design costs, engineering costs, construction contingencies and 2,450 square feet of new space, explained Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director. Still, the estimate does not include site, parking or efficiencies improvements. It also does not include an outdoor plaza.

It would cost an additional $1.8 million to renovate the 2,600-square-foot television studio and expand the space to accommodate more people in the council chambers.

“It would be absolutely crazy to renovate the current property,” said Councilman Don Mosier. “I’m sorry the staff spent the time to evaluate it. I’m glad they didn’t spend much time, because if they started knocking on the walls, they would have had to put on masks, and they would have exposed the mold and the asbestos and the termite damage. They might have knocked the wall down. So let’s move on.”

Del Mar’s current 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.

Originally built in 1953 as a school, Del Mar’s 3,776-square-foot city hall needs ADA improvements, restroom improvements, seismic reinforcement, energy efficient windows and systems, and roof and tenant improvements. Built in the 1920s, the city’s 3,020-square-foot south building is unusable due to safety concerns and needs similar upgrades, including substantial seismic reinforcement, Garcia said.

The television studio was built in 1986 and needs ADA, restroom and energy-efficient improvements, as well as roof and termite damage repairs.

“I think we all agree that we need to move on and not even consider doing anything to the buildings,” Mayor Lee Haydu said.

Earlier in the meeting, Garcia presented a report on potential private sites for a new city hall and civic center. She had previously presented three city-owned options at a previous meeting, including the current city hall site, the public works yard at 2240 Jimmy Durante Blvd. and the Shores property.

Council members reviewed potential private sites during closed sessions in order to protect the city’s ability to negotiate with property owners, Garcia explained.

Built in 1976, the two-story office building at 853 Camino del Mar features 10,500 square feet of space and 32 parking spaces. With an estimated $6.2 million sales tag, the building is not available for purchase or lease until 2017. The building would need $790,000 in improvements. A 50-year renovation would cost approximately $3.4 million, said Garcia, who noted the building is only large enough to accommodate a city hall, not a civic center and an outdoor plaza. The 38-year-old building needs an elevator and ADA upgrades.

City staff also looked at a privately-owned office building at 2010 Jimmy Durante. Built in 1972, the two-story office building at Del Mar’s SouthFair features almost 36,000 square feet of space and 146 parking spaces. The building is estimated at $14.3 million, or $5 million for only 12,500 square feet. It would need $800,000 in improvements, and a 50-year renovation would cost roughly $4.5 million, Garcia said. Located in the floodplain, the 42-year-old building doesn’t have outdoor plaza space, and it also needs an elevator and ADA upgrades.

Only one member of the public spoke on either agenda item. Del Mar resident Jacqueline Winterer said the city hall project has become “a no stone unturned project.”

“Week after week you ask questions and you know the answer to those questions,” she said. “The questions today are the potential sites to be considered … and the renovation cost for 1050 Camino del Mar. … Why is it that we’re doing this?”

Even though Councilman Terry Sinnott admitted it’s “kind of frustrating to hear reports periodically on the same topic,” he told Winterer and the greater community that the council must do its homework.

“I do think we need to make sure that we crossed the “Ts” and dotted the “Is” so that when we eventually come to a decision, we can say we’ve done the right thing for the community,” he said.