The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe considering new step-down housing project


By Karen Billing

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is considering a new step-down housing project for the village, giving people the opportunity to live in a smaller home or downsize without giving up the Ranch lifestyle.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board heard The Inn’s proposal as an informational item at its June 5 meeting and showed support for the project.

John Kratzer, president and CEO of JMI Realty, which owns The Inn, said they are proposing adding three new neighborhoods to the 21 acres they own in the village. Of their existing 99 units, they would demolish 14 and add 30 for a total of 115 units, a net gain of 16.

Kratzer said that while the project does represent some densification of the village, it is modest and the new neighborhoods will still be relatively low density.

“We really do view The Inn as the foundation or cornerstone in the village of Rancho Santa Fe,” Kratzer said. “Whatever we do over there we want to be responsive to the needs of the community.”

As it was presented, the board liked the concept and product quality and felt it would be something positive for Rancho Santa Fe.

“It looks classy and in keeping with the community character,” said RSF Association Vice President Rochelle Putnam. “I think step-down hosing is something very much needed here.”

In The Inn’s specific plan approved in 1988 and amended in 2001, 133 units were approved and 99 exist today, allowing for an additional 34 units.

Currently The Inn operates the dwelling units, built over the last 90 years, as long-term residences for rent. Two existing communities will remain untouched, the communities of Casitas de Cielo and Canyon View. Some dwelling units will be removed to create three new neighborhoods called The Orchard, The Grove and La Gracia Village.

Kratzer said the plan is to offer three distinct products to the marketplace.

With the Orchard, they would demolish the two existing units and add five new single-story detached courtyard homes in the Lilian Rice row house style of about 2,800 square feet.

With the Grove, off La Flecha by the RSF Senior Center, they would demolish two units and come back with four approximately 3,000-square-foot units.

At La Gracia Village, they propose demolishing the 10 existing units to redevelop into 21 2,000 -square-foot units in three two-story structures. Although the buildings would be two-story, because of the step down in grade from Senda de la Luna, they would be below the street level.

Kratzer said The Inn would have the ability to offer hotel amenities to the people who live there, such as housekeeping, room service, spa privileges and direct links to The Inn’s phone system.

The units in all three neighborhoods would be for sale but some may be retained by The Inn for long-term rentals. Kratzer said he knows of no long-term renters who would be displaced by the planned demolition. Their longest renters, one of them who has been there for 26 years, live in Casitas de Cielo and Canyon View and will not be effected.

Just two weeks ago, the RSF Association heard a presentation on another step-down housing project in the community — a proposed 46 units and four estate lots on the 29-acre Mabee property on Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle.

RSF Association Director Larry Spitcaufsky said while he supports the idea of step-down housing; he was wondering how big the market is for it.

Kratzer said it has been somewhat challenging researching how big the marketplace is for step-down housing as the real estate research tends to be anecdotal. He has been told that properties that come available that are under 3,000 square feet and within walking distance to the village don’t stay on the market long.

According to tax records, he said about 20 percent of Covenant homes are under-3, 000 square feet but many have been remodeled and are significantly larger than when they went on the tax roll. He estimates that currently about 15 percent or less of Covenant homes are 3,000 square feet or less.