Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Transforming Dumpy Little Areas; John DeWald's vision of high density
"Pacific Station," the "mixed-use" project proposed by Encinitas developer John DeWald, calls for two three-story buildings, a two-story restaurant and two levels of underground parking on the 1.39-acre lot between E and F streets. The 33-foot-tall buildings would be among the tallest in downtown Encinitas.
The project also would include a grocery store or pharmacy as the anchor, along with offices and smaller stores. The businesses would have 47 one- and two-level condominiums built on the floors above them.
full story on NCT.com
The developer, John DeWald of Cardiff, is expected to present his plans for the subdivision to the Encinitas Planning Commission this month. DeWald would be able to build 10 homes on less than an acre near the beach by including a low-income residence in the mix.
Called Daphne Meadows, the planned subdivision adjoins the back of restaurants and stores on the west side of North Coast Highway 101. To the west is a mixture of single-family homes, duplexes and town homes. The beach -- at the bottom of a tall bluff -- is less than one block away.
DeWald said Tuesday that the Daphne subdivision would replace "a dumpy little area" with nice, small houses, each on its own little lot.
DeWald said it would not make economic sense to build multimillion-dollar homes so close to the highway and commercial strip.
What makes sense, he says, is providing housing that is within reach of working people.
By applying the state "density bonus" law, DeWald is entitled to exceed the property's zoning by two homes. Under the law, one of the homes can sell at market rate, but the other must be set aside for a qualifying "low-income" household.
full story on NCT.com
Developers are interesting creatures. They try so hard to say and do all the right things so not to anger the NIMBY's so their project can get built and they can get paid. But sometimes it's hard for developers to disguise their true selves.
DeWald attempts to build some goodwill by throwing in the working man angle. Affordable housing for hard working cops, fireman and teachers; the unsung American heros who are getting priced out of the neighborhoods they serve.
Sounds great. But DeWald quickly blows his cover by calling his Leucadia property "a dumpy little area".
This area includes Shatto's t-shirt store, Mozy Cafe and the beloved La Especial Norte. All important neighbors DeWald should want support from, not insult. I'm sure the homeowners on that street aren't impressed with getting called "dumpy".
Promised to boldly "transform" downtown Encinitas (as if it needed it with the recent streetscape facelift that improved the infrastructure but kept the charm) Pacific Station is an ambitious high density mixed use project that announces 21st century Encinitas like a Super Bowl ad.
The Pacific Station project has some good concepts; downtown urban living with underground parking and markets to serve the neighborhood.
But, judging from the concept drawings will it really work?
At best, Pacific Station will be like the Cardiff Seaside Market area with housing. At worst, it's a claustrophobic mess.
The multi curved roofs say "Hey, look at me I'm totally modern!" but unfortunately the curved roof line was plenty played out by 1998, let alone 2006. Maybe in 25 years the many curved roof lines in the Encinitas area will give us a retro look?
The living units, sure to be mostly short term summer rentals, are packed in close with no common area for residents to meet and greet, and offers views of the coast highway restaurants backsides and dumpsters.
The main metal building won't be any great loss but the other small quaint/cool metal barn building on F St will be missed.
The lifestyle of Pacific Station living, wedged between the busy coast Hwy101 and the constant blaring horns of passing and stopping trains, will mostly appeal to the younger hipster 20's and 30's crowd. Downtown Encinitas can provide them with some of the culture they crave; coffee shops, art films at the historic La Paloma theater, plenty of taco stands and Thai food and the Daily Double Saloon. But will the current Stepford-ish vibe that all residents of Encinitas must be in bed by 10 o'clock; no loud music, no parties, no DJ's or dancing allowed and the anti-skateboarding rules, spoil all the new fun?
I'm a fan of mixed use and I think Urban Lite style projects will be good for the coast highway strip. But I would like to see these projects be more thoughtful and subtle in Encinitas. Most developers are salivating to "transform" Encinitas into the next Newport or Manhattan Beach. This might be good for them and send them back to Ohio with a bulging wallet, but we need to keep our town functional and livable.
My friendly advice to developers and the city is to complete full traffic studies when it comes to major developments and changes like Pacific Station, the Cadmus intersection and Leucadia roundabouts, before shouting at the top of your lungs about it.
What we need is more Encinitas, not less. And "less is more" developments will bring us that. Pacific Station has potential. Will it be a great asset or another botched opportunity like the Lumberyard shopping center of the 80's?
I wish these Pacific Station style developments for Encinitas were a little less yuppie and were headed up by advanced thinking architects like San Diego's Ted Smith or Teddy Cruz.
*The Planning Commission is discussing both of DeWald's projects at the Thursday January 11 meeting at city hall. link