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Del Mar to sell Balboa to fund Shores

DEL MAR — Even before Del Mar spent $8.5 million in May 2008 to buy the 5.3-acre site that was once home to Del Mar Shores Elementary School, council members talked about selling the 22,200-square-foot lot at 2160 Balboa Avenue to help fund the purchase.
At the May 3 council meeting, they agreed to move forward with the sale, which is expected to more than cover the $3.2 million balloon payment due on the Shores loan in November 2011. Any additional proceeds would likely be used to help fund construction of the new 17th Street safety center and lifeguard station.
The city bought the panhandle-shaped Balboa lot from Del Mar Utilities, a private corporation, in 1965 for $250,392. At the time, it housed a pressure treatment plant and cement water reservoir tank that was partially buried.
Eventually deemed obsolete, the plant and tank were demolished in 1992 and soil was placed over the remaining concrete. The lot is currently vacant and zoned for residential use. It is considered a rare parcel in the city, with ocean or mountain views from any direction.
Although it is large enough to be subdivided into two lots, real estate professionals have said selling it as a single parcel would bring the highest return, according to the staff report.
The lot is considered an idle asset that is generating no income and no longer serves any needed purpose for the city, Mark Delin, the assistant city manager, said. It is not considered suitable for development as a public-use property.
The sale and likely development of the Balboa property as a high-end residential dwelling will result in increased property taxes for the city.
Friends of Del Mar Parks and the Winston School raised approxim
ately $5 million for the initial Shores purchase. Fundraising efforts continue, however, donations dropped off significantly, mostly because of the current economic climate.
The city bought the Shores site, bounded by Camino del Mar, Ninth Street and Stratford Court, to ensure continued public use in perpetuity. Considered the last remaining open space within city limits, it currently houses the Del Mar Union School District administrative offices, which will eventually be relocated, and the private Winston School, which will remain.
The city is required to hold a public hearing before proceeding with the sale. Once that date is determined it will be posted on the website.