Senior facility support sought

The developers of Rancho Del Mar, a senior care facility planned for El Camino Real and Via de la Valle are seeking the support of the Rancho Santa Fe Association.

Ali Shapouri, the project consultant from Shapouri & Associates, said the company is two to three years away from breaking ground on the 23-acre site once they get the city’s approval.

As the property is not located in any community plan area the city has assigned them to the closest one, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, for review.

Shapouri said he thinks going to the Rancho Santa Fe Association board is more appropriate because the project “really has nothing to do with (Carmel Valley).”

“It has a direct impact and hopefully a benefit to our community,” said Shapouri of Rancho Santa Fe. “The community is very much in need of it.”

Shapouri said many communities are not prepared to provide care for the growing senior population - the county’s senior community is predicted to reach 741,362 in 2030 and it was 329,266 in 2004.

The plan for Rancho Del Mar is a resort-like continuing care retirement community with 134 assisted care units, 41 two-bedroom casitas and 50 intensive care units. The community will have its own library, theater, walking trails, outdoor terraces, indoor pool, deli and beauty salon. All 300 parking spaces will be located in underground parking and the roofs of the structures will be planted with gardens.

“We really want to create something very, very special,” said Shapouri estimating the cost at $200 million.

A 29,000-square-foot wellness center is also proposed for the other side of El Camino Real - but that’s if and when the city funds the road-widening project there.

Shapouri said they plan to give two acres back as open space and have made a commitment to fund a wildlife and equestrian trail under the new El Camino Real.

“This is a pretty intensive development, it will really change the character of the whole area,” newly elected board president Bill Beckman said.

One concern raised by Beckman surrounds the annual Surf Cup soccer tournament that uses the site to park as many as 4,000 tournament participants.

Shapouri said that they have been working with Surf Cup officials to explore the possibility of using the fairgrounds parking lots and shuttling people over to the polo fields.

The lot has been used for parking for the Buick Invitational and other special events and Shapouri said some neighbors have told him that they are hopeful that the land will have a more permanent use.