Potential costs presented for new Del Mar city hall, civic center

A new city hall and civic center would cost Del Mar at least $7.4 million and up to $15 million in net costs, according to a report presented to the City Council on Oct. 20.

After looking at industry standards and comparable developments, Carrier Johnson Architects, the city’s consultant, presented potential costs for the eight concepts it gave to the council on Oct. 6. Each of the options features a 9,250-square-foot city hall, a 3,200-square-foot town hall and a 15,000-square-foot plaza, but varying parking options. Most of the concepts also include commercial and/or residential space.

According to the report, it would cost Del Mar an estimated $7.4 million to replace the deteriorating facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar with a basic municipal program — a city hall, town hall, plaza and 60 parking spaces. The basic buildings, along with 10 townhomes and 204 parking spaces, would cost more than $15 million.

With Del Mar’s third city hall planning workshop one week away, council members used the information to narrow the options staff will present during the event. The council decided on three concepts: options B, C2 and D.

Estimated at $12.4 million, option B includes the city hall, town hall and plaza, but with 160 parking spaces (only 51 stalls are required). Option C2, which is estimated at almost $11.4 million in net costs, features the basic buildings, plus 3,400 square feet of commercial space and 160 spaces.

Option D also features the basic buildings and 3,400 square feet of commercial space, as well as four single-family residential units with garages and a total of 204 spaces. If the city leases the homes, the option would cost an estimated $13 million. That figure would decrease to $10.6 million if Del Mar sells the homes.

In addition to the three options by Carrier Johnson Architects, locals Jim Watkins and Kit Leeger will present the concept they voluntarily created during the Oct. 27 workshop.

Like the other options, the concept by the father-daughter duo proposes a 15,000-square-foot plaza. Unlike the concepts by Carrier Johnson Architects, however, the pair’s option features a smaller city hall and slightly larger town hall at 8,450 square feet and 3,788 square feet, respectively. Estimated at almost $9.3 million in net costs, their concept also features much more commercial space at 9,250 square feet, six townhomes and 168 parking stalls, with all but four of the spaces required parking.

Deputy Mayor Al Corti pointed out that other than option B, all of the concepts fall under Measure B. Enacted by Del Mar voters in 1986, Measure B requires public input and voter approval for properties in the downtown commercial district larger than 25,000 square feet in area or with more than 11,500 square feet of development area.

“In evaluating the options — which one do I like best — what is the impact of going through Measure B?” he asked.

Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director, noted that going through the Measure B process would increase costs and extend the time frame. She estimated it would take an additional year to 18 months — or even longer — for the city to prepare a specific plan and hold an election.

After hearing this, council members briefly talked about the possibility of doing a phased project and requested staff to share additional costs and timelines for the concepts that would trigger Measure B during the workshop.

“We’ve all talked for a year that we want to give our employees a new city hall,” Mayor Lee Haydu said. “But if we’re going to add all those other factors to it, and it’s going to be another two or three years, that may be a reason to choose a different option.”

In addition, Councilman Terry Sinnott recommended staff prepare a handout that highlights the differences among the concepts for attendees. He also suggested community members fill out a comment card to share which concept is their favorite and why.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have a lot of discussion at the workshop, and then everybody gets up and leaves,” Sinnott said. “Then we’re in deep trouble because we haven’t captured the essence of what the majority of the folks were thinking.”

The Oct. 27 workshop will begin at 6 p.m. at the Del Mar Communications Center, 240 10th Street. City staff will present the workshop findings to the council on Nov. 17.