The Rancho Santa Fe Association Covenant Design Review Committee held a workshop Nov. 9 on the plans for new development in Plaza de Santa Fe in the village, the site of the post office and formerly Stump’s Market.
Previous plans for the site had included splitting the Stump’s building into two spaces and demolishing the post office building to construct two new buildings, one of them two stories over an underground parking garage.
Architect Allard Jansen and project consultant Pete Smith presented new plans for the Susan Woolley-owned property that collect the development into one building rather than spread it out across the site.
The new configuration of the one two-story building is 16,000 square feet on the ground floor, with 7,295 square feet on the second floor and an expansion of the underground parking structure. The underground structure will have 65 parking spaces and the surface lot will have 54.
Space will be designated for a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot market.
“A few months ago the CDRC reviewed a very different project,” said Candace Humber, CDRC chair. “We’re very grateful that the owner decided to make changes to the project in response to the CDRC and community members’ comments.”
While the bulk of the building has been reduced, there are still issues with the regulatory code that need to be worked out and the project will probably require variances, Humber said.
Stump’s Market vacated at the end of October, although under the terms of the agreement, it did not have to leave until the end of December. As of two weeks ago, they had asked to enter a month-to-month lease, which Wooley had agreed to.
Smith said like everyone in the community, his client is concerned about the loss of retail in the village and is committed to bringing in a market.
While they don’t know who the market will be, Smith said they are exploring all options. He also dispelled rumors that the post office would leave.
“A post office will be in this facility. The only thing we’re not 100 percent sure of is where exactly they’re going to be,” Smith said, noting that it is very early in the process but they wanted to involve the community as soon as possible.
The new plan also creates a central courtyard in the parking lot, with enhanced paving and seating spaces.
“The post office and market are probably one of the most important meeting places in the community,” Jansen said, adding that they want to provide a place for people to gather.
Residents expressed concerns about the character of the building and the project’s ability to attract retail.
Connie McNally, who lives behind the market, said that the two-story building “towering” over the La Casa Verde community would be really “overpowering.” Resident John Engalls, who owns property to the west, said he is also concerned about what the view will be for homeowners looking at the western façade.
Jansen explained that the second story of the building is stepped back, with a deck toward the back, and is proposed to be only 4 1/2 feet higher than the existing building at 24 feet.
McNally and her husband, Bill, owners of McNally Company Antiques, expressed concerns about attracting retail to the village — Bill McNally noted that it might take three years for the vacant market space to be filled.
Connie McNally said in the space they vacated on the corner of Paseo Delicias, the rent is $20,000 a month. They consolidated into the smaller space next door a year ago and the corner shop remains empty.
“It’s ridiculous what’s going on,” McNally said. “We’ve lost our town. You can make more retail spaces, but who’s going to take it?”
Maggie Bobileff, who owns Maggie B and Mister B in the Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar, said the rents in Rancho Santa Fe are much higher than those she has seen in La Jolla and Del Mar.
“No retail can make it in this town, and this town needs retail,” Bobileff said.
Smith said he understands there is a challenge, because a retail tenant like a market can pay one-third to 40 percent of what an office will pay.
“The issue we’re facing is a community problem,” Smith said. “It needs a community solution.”