SOLANA BEACH — The official dedication to mark the completion of improvements along Coast Highway 101 is scheduled for Sept. 22.
But one property owner held an early celebration to honor those who helped kick-start the project nearly two decades ago, including architect Steve Adams, who passed in September 2012.
At the request of Nadine Frymann, who owns Plaza 101 Center, about two dozen invited guests gathered at Beach Grass Café on Sept. 4 to reminisce about the early planning days of the project, Adams and his contributions to the effort.
“He was quite a guy,” said Frymann, who installed a plaque to pay tribute to Adams on her property at 159-161 S. Coast Hwy. 101, site of the first house built in Solana Beach in the early 1900s.
“A lot of his family was there,” she said. “One thing I got out of it was that it was kind of a closure. The timing was really right. It meant so much to the family because they knew what it all meant to their dad and husband.”
Frymann said she became involved in the project in February 1995, 22 years after buying her Solana Beach property, when Councilman Tom Campbell invited her on the maiden run of the Coaster.
“While I was riding with him I was complaining about how horrible everything looked in Solana Beach,” she said. “He told me I should form a group of property owners and try to do something about it.”
Frymann organized a meeting and about 10 people showed up, she said. “I was in the process of redoing my shopping center and Steve was the architect. So he naturally fit into the project.
“He did a lot of work,” she added. “He drew up a lot of plans. Then we took them to the city and got approval.”
Frymann said the project was shelved when the city began working to lower the train tracks below grade level. “The owners all got discouraged,” she said. “Steve was pretty discouraged.”
The improvement project was resurrected as part of the Highway 101 corridor specific plan adopted in June 2003. The plans were amended in 2006.
Beginning in 2009 the city held public workshops and meetings and met with property owners to garner input to refine the design plans.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 27, 2012, for the $7 million project, funded primarily with an advance from the city’s TransNet revenue.
Themed plazas, new crosswalks, streetlights and traffic signals, a lower speed limit, parking spaces and sharrows have been added as part of the improvements.
Frymann said the merchants she has talked to are “very, very pleased with how the city has progressed.”
“It doesn’t look like they cheaped it at all,” she said.
“This is really cool,” Adams’ son Grayson said of the Beach Grass Café event. “My dad and sister and I used to eat lunch here all the time.”
Mayor Mike Nichols attended the event. “It’s nice to see it actually happen,” he said of the improvements.