Mar digs new Civic Center
Phil Diehl, February 8, 2017
Mar’s new $17.8 million Civic Center is at last rising on
the same ocean-view property that held the old City Hall,
a converted brick elementary school that had been the city’s
headquarters since 1975.The Civic Center project is
probably 30 years in the planning, or more, said former
Councilman Al Corti, a real estate developer who continues
to serve as a liaison between the City Council, the contractor,
and others involved in the construction.
the beginning, city officials discussed building more than
just a City Hall on the Camino Del Mar property, which is
on the west side of the road between 10th and 11th streets.
They wanted additional parking for nearby merchants and guests
at special events, and they wanted a public plaza to serve
as a meeting place and to host outdoor activities such as
concerts, weddings and more.
Council and Del Mar residents, however, balked several times
at proposed designs and estimated costs.
my view, it took way too long, said Corti, who pushed
the city to pull the trigger on the project when he was on
the council from 2012 to 2016. The council approved the plan
in November 2015, the old building was demolished last year,
and a groundbreaking was held in September.
Mars new Civic Center will include a 140-space below-ground
parking structure, topped by an 8,722-square-foot City Hall
with administrative offices and a 150-seat council chamber
that can be converted for other uses, a separate 3,172-square-foot
Town Hall to seat as many as 250 people for dinners and special
events, and a 15,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza.
included are three areas for future expansion possibilities
include a restaurant or commercial business that could create
income for the city, or a new location for the historic Alvarado
house, which was built in 1885 and used as a residence for
a century before it was moved to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for
storage to make way for new construction.
not everyone is happy whats coming to the 1.5-acre site.
Nearby homeowner Steven Mack filed a lawsuit a year ago claiming
the environmental documents for the project failed to adequately
address the increase in noise and traffic the project would
bring. He asked for greater controls over the types of activities,
their time of day, and lighting at the Civic Center. A court
hearing is expected this summer.
never really been about the buildings themselves, said
Macks attorney, Everett DeLano, who specializes in land
use and environmental law. My client and other neighbors
are really talking about how those facilities are used.
want limits on the number of people who can attend events
at the center, how late the facilities can stay open, what
types of sound equipment can be used, and more. Much of the
surrounding area is an older beach neighborhood of single-family
officials say the Civic Center plan was developed over the
years with extensive community input, and that the design
is well within the guidelines set by environmental documents.
details of a policy to guide activities, time limits, and
the noise allowed are being developed and will be presented
to the City Council before the facility opens, said Assistant
City Manager Kristen Crane, who oversees the construction
been working hard to minimize the impacts on our neighbors,
she said, and one of the first things built was a sound wall
to minimize noise leaving the property.
remains on schedule and within budget despite 13 rain days
so far this winter, Crane said.
end of the drought has not been our friend, she said,
although the construction schedule had anticipated as many
as 18 rain days.
difficulties so far have included some spots of spongy
soil that had to be backfilled with aggregate and concrete,
and an unexpected 90-foot-long retaining wall that had to
be removed from the embankment below Camino Del Mar, she said.
week workers were digging trenches to hold conduit and building
the concrete podium that will cover the parking
structure and support the main buildings. By mid-summer the
main buildings will start going up.
summer well start seeing the shape of the buildings,
in, or the point where the roof is on and work can continue
indoors, is expected by September, Crane said. The buildings
should be ready to occupy by late spring of 2018.
then, City Hall will continue to operate in temporary quarters
leased in an office building at 2019 Jimmy Durante Boulevard.
of the furniture from the old building was sold at a public
auction in June, but most of it has been moved to the temporary
location, Crane said.
Mar had a population of about 4,300 people in 2014, making
it the smallest of San Diego Countys 18 incorporated