Office project proposed for east end of Del Mar Mesa Preserve

A development company based in Carmel Valley is pursuing plans to build an office complex and parking structure on an 11-acre property southwest of the intersection of SR 56 and Camino Del Sur.

The project, called the Preserve at Torrey Highlands, would include 450,000 square feet of office space. The company that wants to build the project, Cisterra Development, purchased the land from the Catholic Diocese of San Diego in June, said Jason Wood, project principal with Cisterra.

The project was slated to be discussed at a meeting of the Rancho Penasquitos Planning Board on Wednesday, Feb. 3, (after press-time for this edition), but formal consideration of the proposal by the planning board is still several months away, according to Wood. (Look for a report on the Feb. 3 meeting in the next issue of this newspaper and online.)

The project may be controversial because it is surrounded on three sides by the Del Mar Mesa Preserve, a 900-acre property dedicated by the city of San Diego for habitat protection and recreational trails. The property is sometimes referred to as “the notch” because of its proximity to the preserve.

Wood said studies are now underway as part of the environmental review process. The developer, which has hired environmental experts and consultants, wants to make sure that the project does not impact protected natural resources.

The city’s review process could take about a year, and the company would then seek financing and tenants for the office space. Cisterra hopes to break ground by mid-2017, with occupancy by early 2019, Wood said.

At Wednesday’s planning board meeting, both representatives of the community and the developer were expected to address the board, said Jon Becker, board vice president.

At one time, the Catholic Diocese had planned to build a church on the site. Now, the applicant would need to get approval of a zoning change to allow the office complex.

While the project falls under the jurisdiction of the Rancho Penasquitos Planning Board, city planning officials have encouraged the developer to also work with the Del Mar Mesa Planning Board, whose territory includes the preserve.