CARMEL VALLEY — About a month after preliminary grading began, the developers of One Paseo held an official groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 25, with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer praising the mixed-use project for providing much-needed housing and jobs.
“That’s growing our tax base. That’s growing our economy,” Faulconer said.” As we are continuing to grow our economy, particularly growing our innovation economy, this One Paseo project is going to provide top-of-the-line work spaces that we need to have to attract some of the best and brightest talent.”
Because One Paseo will allow people to live, work, dine and shop on the 23-acre site, Faulconer said it will also help reduce pollution and support the goals of the city’s climate action plan.
“People have come together to create a very special project,” he said. “This is about a win for all San Diegans. … Thank you for working to create a project that’s going to be unique and that’s going to work. And that’s, at the end of the day, what all of us wanted to see.”
The project, located at the southwest corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, will feature 95,000 square feet of retail space, 280,000 square feet of offices in two buildings, open plazas and 608 multifamily units.
Of those, 61will be affordable, for residents who earn 65 percent of the region’s average median income, or approximately $36,000 for a single person or $45,000 for a family of three.
When first proposed nearly 10 years ago, the project called for about 1.8 million square feet of development with retail and office buildings, a 150-room hotel and more than 600 residential units. Some buildings were proposed to be 10 stories high.
Strong opposition to the overall size of the project – the lot was initially zoned for a 500,000-square-foot complex — prompted local residents to form a citizens group called What Price Main Street?
After meeting with the organization, residents and planning groups, the developer, Kilroy Realty Corp., reduced the overall square footage by about 30 percent, lowered building heights by 10 percent and eliminated the hotel.
The modified version was approved with a 7-2 vote by the San Diego City Council in February 2015. The $750 million “neighborhood village” complex included 608 multifamily units, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 484,000 square feet of office space, a movie theater and more than 10 acres of open space.
Still concerned about the project’s overall size and traffic impacts, including a potentially significant reduction in emergency vehicle response times, residents began circulating petitions in a referendum effort while several groups filed lawsuits against Kilroy.
Opponents gathered more than enough signatures, forcing City Council to either rescind its decision or let voters decide in a costly special election.
Kilroy met with the stakeholders to work out a compromise, the lawsuits were eventually settled and in May 2015 council members withdrew their approval. Stakeholder groups continued to meet.
The result was the current scaled-back project that was approved 8-1 in June 2016, with then-President Sherri Lightner, whose district includes Carmel Valley, opposed.
“What a journey,” said Nelson Ackerly, a Kilroy senior vice president. “It wasn’t always smooth. It sure as heck wasn’t short. But in the end it was productive. We listened to the community. We gathered ideas.”
Ackerly thanked the mayor, his staff, the City Council and “the many, many residents of this great community who came out for what must have felt like endless meetings to contribute and to support One Paseo and also those residents who weren’t initially supportive but channeled their concerns into constructive feedback and created what is going to be one of the great projects in San Diego.”
“One Paseo isn’t just about being convenient,” he added. “Even if you don’t live or work here, it’s a place to meet up, hang out and join in. … It welcomes the entire community because it’s part of the community.”
Ackerly said the development will host farmers markets, outdoor movie nights, concerts, art exhibits and more.
“From the moment you arrive at One Paseo, everything’s going to feel easy,” he said. “It’s going to feel comfortable. It’s going to feel laid back. And it’s going to feel family friendly. I like to say, more than anything, One Paseo is completely unique to San Diego but it’s uniquely San Diegan.”
Although no specific retail tenants have been named, a Kilroy executive vice president described them as “game changing.”
“I think a lot of the cities would love to have some of the names we’re talking to, so stay tuned,” Rob Paratte said.
The retail portion is scheduled to open by the middle of next year. Office buildings and the residential units should be ready for occupancy in late 2019 or early 2020. An interest list is forming on the Kilroy website for future residential tenants.
Council members Barbara Bry and David Alvarez were also on hand for the groundbreaking. Bry now represents Carmel Valley as Lightner could not seek re-election this past November because of term limits.
Not present was John Kilroy, company president and chief executive officer, who woke up the day of the event sick and unable to talk.
Ackerly said Kilroy was disappointed he couldn’t attend but is “so excited that we’re at this point.”
“And John is so excited to see the vision carried forward of what One Paseo’s going to be,” Ackerly added.
Carol Klein, who has owned property within walking distance of One Paseo, said she is glad to see the project finally under way.
“I’ve supported it all along,” she said. “I was tired of looking at an empty lot.”
Klein said many who opposed the project didn’t want anything built.
“But that’s not realistic,” she said. “When I first moved here, the whole area was empty lots. The only thing here was Torrey Pines High School.”