Developers add assisted living to proposed Gateway project in Rancho Santa Fe

A rendering of The Gateway project, as viewed from La Flecha.

The village development will also include a new boutique market


The Gateway project in Rancho Santa Fe is pivoting from office space to assisted living.

The project at the entrance to the Rancho Santa Fe village, would replace the existing gas station on the corner of La Granada, Via De Santa Fe and La Flecha.

At the Rancho Santa Fe Association board’s June 13 meeting, developer Enrique Landa of Landrock Development shared his latest proposal on the project he has been working on for over nine years. Despite the challenges, he is committed to getting it done—“We love the community, we love the site,” said Landa, who has been a Covenant resident for 27 years.

“It’s going to be a good project,” Landa said of the two-story building, which will have the same Lilian Rice-inspired architecture with a landscaped open space plaza and a boutique grocery market.

The project was perfected over the course of 30 public meetings and approved by the board in 2017. It took a lengthy two years working with the county to vacate easements for the project size to be feasible and then the pandemic hit.

“The office market went down the drain,” said Landa, noting he has been told that there are more than two million square feet of empty office space in San Diego which squashed the possibility of having an office tenant.

With his son Fernando, they considered many other uses for the space including apartments, condos and medical offices but nothing really worked so they started exploring assisted living, something that the aging population of Rancho Santa Fe and greater San Diego needs.

The space was considered too small by several assisted living operators but the property owners, the Rababy family, then offered up a second location in Fairbanks Ranch’s Del Rayo Village, another gas station property. The developers have proposed a 50-bed assisted living facility in Gateway and 35-40 beds for memory care five miles away in Fairbanks Ranch.

Landa said according to respective tenants, “the two facilities in synchrony will make the project feasible.”

Architect John Jensen was commissioned to make the project work with the approvals that Landrock already has, using the exact same footprint to accommodate the new use and the grocer.

There will be some added square footage to accommodate the size of the assisted living suites but the project remains largely the same—the central patio remains on the ground floor, near the new boutique market which will have its own entrance on the Via de Santa Fe frontage.

At 5,000 square feet, the boutique market will be about half the size of the 10,000-square-foot Stumps Market that closed in 2015.

One of the major differences with the new project is the parking. In the previous iteration, there were 100 stalls in a three-level underground parking garage. Landa said the idea now is to accommodate 50 spaces needed for the grocer and assisted living on one underground level. The less invasive plan will also significantly cut construction time, he said.

Last year the RSF Association board approved an extension of its approval of the project, through June 2025. The developers will continue working through the county approval process in the coming year.