DEL MAR — With help from area residents, two high-end, Encinitas-based developers are planning to transform Del Mar’s largest private oceanfront parcel into a luxury resort, public park and walking trails.
Zephyr Partners, which specializes in “custom artisan” homes and mixed-use communities, and The Robert Green Company, known for high-quality hospitality projects, recently purchased three parcels at the southwest corner of the Via de la Valle and Camino del Mar intersection.
“We know we have a 16-acre palette that’s probably one of the best palettes in the United States to work from,” said Brad Termini, Zephyr’s co-founder and CEO. “So the time is now to get everybody together to create a development the community can be proud of, because if we don’t come together now the opportunity to develop this property is going to be lost forever.
“It’s really about figuring out something that’s better than a gated mansion that’s going to close all of this off forever,” he added.
The property comprises three lots. The 6.2-acre middle parcel owned for years by the Lazier family was granted city approval in May 2015 to be subdivided into five residential lots. The three oceanfront sites were listed for an estimated $10 million to $15 million each. The two interior parcels were available for $4 million and $6 million.
The other two lots were owned by Ross Gilbert, who has lived on the south parcel for about 35 years, and Paula Whalen to the north.
Termini said he was approached by a broker to buy and develop the Lazier lots about a year ago.
“I had never been out here,” Termini said at an onsite lunch he hosted for his team March 17. “I live in Solana Beach, literally a quarter mile off the bluff, and I never even knew this existed. When I saw it I thought it would be an absolute shame if somebody built five houses here and essentially closed this land off for the next century.
“Nobody’s had access to this property for over 100 years except the few fortunate families who live here,” he added. “It’s been gated, private estates. We didn’t think building homes was the right use for the property.
“So we started talking to the owners and called Robert Green and he and I came out here,” Termini said. “For starters we needed to figure out a plan that gives part of this property back to the community and increases accessibility and creates walking trails and a park. A resort was the center point of this idea.
“But we want it to not just be a resort for the guests who have the ability to stay here, but to be the center point of the community,” he added. “So we look forward to working with the cities and the residents to figure out how to make this hotel their hotel.”
Termini said he expects to release a public outreach plan within the next 30 days. But people aren’t waiting to weigh in.
The development team received a lot of input the first week after plans were announced.
“All our phones are ringing off the hook. Our email boxes are filling up,” Termini said. “I think most of the comments have been very positive. Most of what we hear is that if the development is well-thought-out and well-designed it could be a great fit for the community.
“We’ve had some negative feedback but most of that is based on people being fearful of what they don’t know,” he added. “What we want to do through a set of community meetings is let everybody know they’re going to have an opportunity to have their say.
“We don’t have this site designed. We have control of the property. We have the concept of a resort. It’s not going to be a high-rise. It’s going to be something that fits the scale and character of the community.
“Beyond that we want to get out and partner with the community to develop a concept that everyone can get excited about,” Termini said.
There were concerns about parking and traffic but “those are always concerns,” he added. “We’re going to build plenty of parking.”
He said there were also fears that North Beach — known to locals as dog beach and located at the bottom of the bluff just south of the property — would be impacted.
“We’re not here to take dog beach away,” he said. “In fact, we think the property actually gets enhanced. We’re giving the community more space than they have now at dog beach, which is overcrowded.
“So having walking trails along the bluff and a park on the point overlooking dog beach, having new public parking as part of the development, that helps make all of this area more accessible,” Termini said. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us. This is not a project. It is the beginning of a process.”