Input sought on center upgrade


Del Mar Highlands shopping center is due for an upgrade, and the management is looking for the community’s input on how they can make it better.

Their first stop was last week’s Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, where members requested improved pedestrian connections and parking lot flow. They also urged the center’s representatives to redevelop Town Center Drive toward the back of the center to make Townsgate Drive more like a main street, connecting civic uses like the library and recreation center.

Chair Frisco White also put in a request for a doughnut shop and member Anne Harvey wanted a pet store to replace the departed Daily Pet.

Elizabeth Schreiber, vice president of Donahue Schriber and general manager of Del Mar Highlands, suggested White try the treats at the Village Mill Bread Co. and said that a new store called Pet People is getting ready to move into the old Daily Pet spot.

Schreiber has been newly assigned to the Highlands center to get it ready for its “next chapter.”

“It’s 20 years old,” she said. “It’s time to look to the future and update the shopping center.”

Currently Donahue Schriber is preparing to submit a substantial conformance review to the city. The goal of a document is to determine if a proposed project is consistent with a previously approved permit.

Del Mar Highlands’ permit was originally approved for 425,000 square feet and only 273,000 square feet have been built. They are considering an additional building on El Camino Real and a possible parking garage.

Better parking was a request of board member Nancy Novak, who said the center is “tremendously under-parked,” which makes her sometimes avoid going there.

With their conformance review, Donahue Schriber is asking the city about what they would be able to build. One question was if the movie theater were to leave whether they would be required to fill the space with another theater or if they could pursue other tenants. UltraStar Cinema’s lease is up in January 2010.

While Schreiber said they want to keep the theater, the question still perked up the ears of many board members.

“I really think the theater is important to the community, especially since we may lose the one at Flower Hill,” said board member David Bartick, referencing plans for UltraStar there to be replaced by a Whole Foods.

“I think it’s an amenity the community enjoys,” echoed board member Laura Copic.

White also suggested that Donahue work with the incoming Kilroy development across the street at the corner of Del Mar Heights and El Camino Real.

Tentative plans for the Kilroy site include office and retail space, 600 residential units, a 150-room hotel, a boutique cinema, a 10-story corporate building and a 25-30,000 square foot full service market like a Whole Foods or Gelson’s.

White asked that they try to share visions and possibly even a pedestrian connection between the two centers.

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