Rancho Santa Fe CDRC approves Gateway village development

The Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) unanimously recommended approval of the proposed new Gateway project in the Rancho Santa Fe village at its Oct. 18 meeting. The two-story, 27,017-square- foot building would replace the existing gas station with a market, office and retail, courtyards and open space.

CDRC member Bill Cardon said the project has evolved in a positive way since they started reviewing it back in 2013; board member Hilary Broyles echoed that the developers have responded to every request made over the course of nine public meetings.

“It fits into the community and provides us with something that we lost,” Cardon said. “We have a market. And if it’s supported by the community it will be there forever.”

The RSF Association board will make the final decision on the project in November. If approved, it would take about six months to get through the county approval process before the developers could begin construction.

Fernando Landa, an attorney representing LandRock Development (owned by longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident Enrique Landa), said she believes the plan reflects their commitment to the community by providing residents with what they said they wanted: A 5,000-square-foot market, more village parking with a three-level; 138-space underground garage; and creating a more “deserving” entry to the village from the south than the existing back of the gas station, with a portion of the property preserved as green open space. 

For Association approval, LandRock Development is seeking an increase in floor area ratio (FAR) and a variance. Per the regulatory code, to get the increase in FAR, the project is required to be Spanish Colonial, Lilian Rice-style design; 10 percent must be courtyards; and at least 25 percent of ground floor reserved for retail uses.

According to Robert Green, the retired building commissioner still serving in an advisory role to the CDRC, the project “stacks up,” with 13 percent courtyards and 35 percent of the ground floor as leasable market space. LandRock is eyeing Stehly Farms Market as the grocery tenant.

In order to be granted the variance, the project must be found to be “in harmony” with the distinctive, historic architectural character of the village. Green said the project is compatible with the surrounding village and while it is two stories, it is broken up into single-story elements which reduces its bulk and scale.

The FAR in the regulatory code was meant to prohibit an above-grade parking garage and bulk in the village and it is believed to be written in response to the Gann building across the street, of which the entire first floor is an above-ground parking garage. CDRC member Tim Parillo said the FAR seems to be just an arbitrary number and he is more interested in how the building looks.

“It’s a very attractive building,” Parillo said, who noted that it doesn’t simply fit into the rest of the village but is actually nicer than most of the village buildings.

The design includes wrought-iron details, hand-forged iron lanterns, exposed wooden beams, mission stucco finish, distressed wooden doors and heavy wood trellises, courtyard fountains and enhanced landscaping all around. 

“I think concerns that it is too bulky or massive are overblown,” Parillo said. “I think it’s a great project and I’m very happy about it.”

A traffic study showed that the project will not cause any significant impacts. Green said a concern of many residents is what will happen during construction. LandRock will be required to have a detailed construction management plan that includes truck routes and times, construction worker parking and restrictions on work hours.

One resident at the hearing asked how the project would interact with the development across the street, home to the former Stump’s and the post office.

Green said the CDRC has seen various proposals for Plaza de Santa Fe, which at one time included new construction and an underground parking garage. The latest plans include no increase in square footage with the post office remaining and the market space converted to office space.

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