By Karen Billing
Could the search for a new district office for the Del Mar Union School District be nearing a close? A very positive update from district superintendent Jim Peabody at the Oct. 27 board meeting showed that the district has nailed down its exact square footage needs and has successfully applied those needs to a Carmel Valley office building it is about to enter a due diligence escrow on.
Peabody said that on Oct. 27 a potential purchase agreement was sent to the seller of the property on 11232 El Camino Real. If the agreement is signed by the seller, it will be sent back and signed by the district, officially entering them into a 30-day due diligence escrow to verify whether the building will be suitable to their needs.
Peabody told the board that it is his recommendation to move forward in purchasing the El Camino Real office space.
"This is an elegant solution for what our needs are," Peabody said. "There might be a better one but I haven't seen it yet."
The building, located in the Torrey Hills Financial Center, is listed online at a price of $4,370,247. The district has $8.5 million available from the sale of the Shores property.
The board also received incentive toward purchasing property for the new district offices after getting a response last week from the City of Del Mar regarding extending the district’s lease at the Shores property past May 14, 2011.
The city informed Peabody that the lease payment would be $4,768 a month or $57,220 a year. Currently, the district pays $30,000 a year in rent. The city also notified Peabody that no further lease extensions would be granted.
To help make the most informed decision, the board requested that the district hire a professional space planner and the district hired San Diego Office Interiors.
Vincent Mudd, president and owner of San Diego Office Interiors (SDOI), said the district made a good move in having them look at their space needs before a building was purchased, as they are usually hired after a building has been bought.
"It's so much better to do it before," Mudd said.
The SDOI team met with district office personnel and talked about the kind of space they needed and defined workstations and meeting rooms that would be functional, practical and cost effective. They also had to calculate the district's needs in the future, as board member Katherine White said it wouldn't make sense to consider a space that won't be usable in another five years.
SDOI senior architect Brian Giguere determined that the district would need about 11-12,000 square feet, factoring in "dead spaces" like hallways.
The property on 11232 El Camino Real is 10,952 square feet, which represents a 13 percent space deficiency. Despite the deficiency, the SDOI team believes that the district will be able to compensate, especially given that the building is very rectangular in its architecture. There is not a lot of angles or curves that tend to eat up space, Giguere said.
"This is a viable spot that can suit our needs," Peabody said.
The superintendent said the next steps will be to develop a district facilities master plan and continue to look for a site for maintenance and operations. They are currently looking at a warehouse building on 11999 Sorrento Valley Road.