Solana Beach approves modifications for Stevens Avenue mixed-use project


By Claire Harlin

After citing poor economic conditions and maxing out on time extensions totaling two years, American Assets trust on Jan. 11 presented a revised plan for its Solana Beach Corporate Centre project and was granted more time by the Solana Beach City Council.

The council unanimously approved (with two council members recused) development permits for the 10,300-square-foot, single-level retail and office building and two-level parking structure planned for the southeast corner of Stevens Avenue and San Rodolfo Drive. The development company, which was granted a similar extension last March for Lomas Santa Fe Plaza, is also planning a mixed-use development for the 1.76-acre lot located at South Coast Highway 101 and Dahlia Drive, bought for $6.85 million in October.

Mark Swenson, of Studio C Architects, said the Solana Beach Corporate Centre will include restaurant, office and retail establishments. The American Assets leasing department is still in the process of gathering tenants, so developers said they are not sure what the office-to-retail ratio will be at this point.

American Assets requested modifications on the project, approved in 2008, to address prospective tenants’ feedback and reduce the overall development intensity. These modifications include reducing the building size from 12,947 to 10,300 square feet; shifting the building footprint 36 feet to the east and 27 feet to the north; and reducing the size of the parking garage by 30 parking spaces. The new permit restarts the development timeline and expires in two years.

Pedestrian- and bicycle-friendliness on the 9.8-acre site was a main concern of both the council and some community members present at the meeting. The council’s development permit approval included some stipulations, such as more bike racks and audible signals, as suggested by Solana Beach Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee chair Douglas Alden.

Alden said the group had a meeting recently to address desires for this particular project. These desires included painting “sharrow” lane markers — which dictate shared use by cars and bikes — on San Rodolfo Drive.

“It’s a narrow lane with street parking so this is a situation where you’d use the sharrow because the bike would take the lane,” said Alden. “It’s an educational tool, as well, that allows people to know that cyclists have a right to be in the lane. You don’t want to ride a bike close to parked cars because if someone swings open the door, you’re going to have an accident.”

City Manager David Ott said the city would have to fund and complete a traffic study analysis before putting in sharrows there.

Alden also suggested moving the bike parking closer to the building instead of putting it at the end of the parking structure, as it is currently planned. Mayor Joe Kellejian suggested simply adding additional bike parking and having it at both locations to meet this need. Developers said that would be feasible.

Alden said the traffic signals at San Rodolfo Drive and Stevens Avenue should also be modified to trigger for cyclists (with cameras being the preferred option). Including bike lane striping as part of the project and modifying crosswalk signals to give pedestrians priority are also desires of the group. Ott said this, as well as including pop-out curbs, is something city staff will take a look at.