Rancho Santa Fe Village property purchased by real estate investment firm


By Joe Tash

A real estate investment firm has purchased a property at El Tordo and Avenida de Acacias in the Rancho Santa Fe village for $7.56 million, where a mixed-use development called the Lilian at Rancho Santa Fe had been proposed, according to county real estate records.

The parcel includes a parking lot, two banks and an undeveloped portion, said Jed Stirnkorb, a commercial real estate broker with CB Richard Ellis who represented the buyer, Merlone Geier Partners. The sale was recorded on Nov. 10, according to county records.

The Lilian project — which was approved by the Rancho Santa Fe Association Art Jury and the Association board — was proposed to include five residential units, 4,070 square feet of commercial space and a three-story underground parking structure.

However, the project stalled after the 2008 recession and last summer, the Association filed a $15,830 lien against the parcel due to unpaid Association fees. Also in August, the Association board’s approval of the Lilian project expired.

Coronado developer Joe Pinnsoneault, who purchased the March property in 2007 for $10 million and attempted unsuccessfully to build the Lilian project, confirmed the sale but declined any further comment.

Merlone Geier vice president Michael Grehl said his company has no plans to revive the Lilian project, and observers will see no immediate changes to the property.

“We bought it as a long-term hold as is. (We) have zero interest in pursuing the plan that was previously put forth,” said Grehl. “The Lilian is dead.”

While the company may look at improvements to the property in the future, it has no immediate development plans, said Grehl.

Merlone Geier’s holdings include numerous retail properties throughout California, and the firm’s investors are university endowment funds, said Grehl.

In June, Merlone Geier Partners purchased the Shops at San Miguel Ranch, a 103,548-square-foot shopping center in Chula Vista, for $19.8 million. The firm also owns a parcel in downtown San Diego’s East Village, near Petco Park, where it is planning a proposed 485,000-square-foot retail development.

Merlone Geier has offices in Carmel Valley and San Francisco.

“They like that location’” said Stirnkorb of the Village parcel. “It’s a great long-term investment for them, as far as I can tell. They’re a very high quality buyer.”