Changes come to Plaza de Santa Fe

A rendering of the new bell tower in Plaza de Santa Fe.

Construction will soon begin on a new bell tower in the Plaza de Santa Fe as the first office tenants are moving into the Rancho Santa Fe Village Suites next to the post office on Via de Santa Fe.

Plaza owners the Woolley family worked with the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s Covenant Design Review Committee on the design for the tower, meant to hold a new elevator that will bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The tower will include a clock (it will not chime) and will be built in between Morgan Stanley and Chase Bank.

There will be two staircases on either side of the elevator.

Project consultant Pete Smith said that construction is set to begin by the end of October and it will disrupt parking in the plaza. As much as possible crews will work on weekends. It will take two and a half months to complete the tower —the elevator is built within the shaft and expected to be finished and functional by March 2020.

ADA improvements were also made to the walkways on La Flecha.

The lobby of the new Rancho Santa Fe Village Suites.
(Karen Billing)

In the plaza, Rancho Santa Fe Village Suites has taken over the 10,000-square-foot space that was formerly Stump’s Market.

Operated by the company Small Offices 4 Rent, the space was given a modern office overhaul with one-to-two room units for lease and three conference rooms. The suites have a receptionist at the front desk in the lobby and mail and package services are also available.

Tenants can also opt to have a “virtual office,” allowing them to use the suites for a mailing address with access to 20 hours of conference room time a month.

Construction will start by the end of the month and a coffee shop is set to open in the building’s former loading dock. The coffee shop will be behind the roll-up doors, all of the seating will be outdoors and it will be open seven days a week.

“Nobody in this building will have an assigned parking space, we were very careful not to allocate parking spaces to any tenant,” Smith said, noting that they need to maintain as much flexibility as they can with the parking spaces in order for the post office to work effectively.

Of all of the uses that were considered for the building, the executive offices used the least amount of parking. Small Offices 4 Rent’s other locations in San Diego average just 35 percent of the tenants in the building at one time.

The building next to the post office had been vacant since the market closed in 2015 and multiple possibilities were explored. Smith said they hired a broker to specifically focus on finding a market user to replace the departed Stump’s and despite talking to nine markets about using the space all declined.

In 2016, Plaza de Santa Fe pitched a plan that included the new construction of a two-story building, gathering spaces and an expanded underground parking garage, but it was scrapped after meeting resistance from neighbors.

The Association’s former building commissioner gave the Woolley family the idea for their new direction for the space, after hearing that the Association had over 130 code enforcement actions against members and the vast majority of violations were for those who were operating businesses out of their homes.

This project seeks to provide local residents the option to have an executive office space outside of their homes and the initial response has been positive. “Eighty percent of our pre-leasing clients are Covenant residents,” Smith said.

Following the completion of the elevator project in March, Smith said there are plans to completely renovate the parking lot in the plaza, including refreshing the landscaping.

No exterior changes will be made to the suites and post office building.

One of three conference rooms in the Rancho Santa Fe Village Suites.
(Karen Billing)