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Positive Plaza Plans
Betty Wheeler | Seaview Avenue


Stonework, arches, and timber trellises lend the Plaza
Old World elegance. Photos Betty Wheeler.
Click on image to enlarge.
Click on image to enlarge.
Click on image to enlarge.

 

A small, eclectic bookstore? Prepared foods and wine to take home, or better yet, to enjoy on the Plaza deck? Shaded deck space, the better to hang out and enjoy the views? Pop-up events, roll-in/roll-out kiosks, and live music that make the Plaza a choice destination?

These are just some ideas that Patty Brutten has to make the Del Mar Plaza a social hub and gathering place for residents and visitors alike. Of course, the bottom line for new owners Marc and Patty Brutten is that the Plaza is a commercial space, and it has to make economic sense. But they are keenly aware that retail has changed – old-school shopping centers don’t make sense when Amazon.com can deliver products to your door almost before you order them. So Patty is working hard to find the magical mix of tenants, renovated facilities, and programming that will make the Plaza a softer, more inviting place. If the Plaza can become a place to be social, gather together, and have experiences, that’s exactly what Amazon cannot deliver, and what will allow the Plaza to thrive in today’s retail environment.

Patty is working with an architectural and landscape design team to give the Plaza an updated look and feel. She loves the European elements that permeate the original design, which has lost some integrity as a changing cast of owners, managers and tenants have made a series of changes. (That’s on top of the significant amount of deferred maintenance and clean-up that the Bruttens inherited from the previous owner.) A big challenge she’s tackling is street-front signage that will bring visibility to second-floor retail – it will require nuanced, careful design work to integrate well into the Plaza’s tasteful “look.” It also may require a public vote, if it differs from the voter-approved Plaza Specific Plan.
Patty’s timeline is ambitious: she hopes to wrap up key design development work in three months, including architectural and landscape changes, awnings, and signage package. Getting the right mix of tenants will happen more gradually, as the Bruttens search for the right tenants for key spaces such as the restaurant space that has turned over frequently since Epazote left years ago. The oft-requested market presents big challenges, in part because the original market space, which has the infrastructure needed to support a market, is under long-term lease for non-market uses. Prepared foods and wine may come easier, and could play a role in activating the Plaza as a place for the community to gather and enjoy a glass of wine along with the stellar sunset view.

Patty has heard lots of ideas and community “wish lists” for the Plaza, and she welcomes more (email delmarplazaca@gmail.com). Once the Bruttens have created their overall “wish list,” compiled from their own ideas as well as the community’s wish list, it will be clearer whether any amendments to the Plaza Specific Plan are needed to effectuate their full vision for the Plaza. If so, the next step could be to ask the City Council to put an amendment on the ballot, and early 2018 could find the Plaza working to build community support for a ballot measure on the primary or general election ballot. In the meantime, watch for changes, big and small, now that the Plaza has owners who actually live in walking distance, and care greatly for this too-long-neglected community asset.

Got photos? Sandpiper is interested in photos that show the Plaza as it looked when it opened. Contact us at editor@delmarsandpiper.org to share your photos with us.

 

 

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