DEL MAR — Walk down Del Mar’s main thoroughfare and you will likely notice some big changes, with the small village city looking a little more modern, and a lot more green.
After 10 months of construction and a few delays, the city’s long-awaited Streetscape project is finally wrapping up. The city’s contractor is working on the last “deficiencies and corrections” before the project is deemed complete, according to Public Works Deputy Director Mohsen Maali.
Streetscape has included the construction of new sidewalks, medians, crosswalks and other street improvements in Del Mar’s downtown, stretching from 9th Street to the Del Mar Plaza. Plenty of new trees, shrubs and succulents fill the city’s medians and walkways, with modern furniture, trash cans and street lights now spread across the corridor.
Streetscape has been on the city’s radar for decades, with the passage of Measure Q in 2016 paving a path forward. The voter-approved 1% sales tax hike was meant to bring more funding to long-awaited city projects — such as city-wide utility undergrounding, the revitalization of Shores Park and Streetscape.
But the project drew some heavy sighs from area businesses and residents over the summer, with noise and dust keeping customers at bay during the high season. Streetscape was originally slated to be done by July, in time for the annual San Diego County Fair and the racetrack’s opening day, but a series of drawbacks pushed back the project’s end date.
Most of the delays were due to an unexpected amount of rainfall this past winter. Contractors also discovered corroded steel storm drains near 10th and 11th streets that required repair.
And as a result of the unanticipated conditions, the project’s final price tag was $8.3 million, with the construction contract ending up at about $6.75 million. The original construction contract was for approximately $5.15 million.
The city made strides to mitigate the impact, with large purple signs across the downtown strip intended bring support to local businesses.
Zach Groban, co-owner of Rusty’s and chair of the city’s business support advisory committee, told The Coast News the city worked with the Del Mar Village Association to make the construction experience “as easy as possible” on area businesses.
“We were all sympathetic to the loss of business we all experienced during the project as well as the headache for residents and visitors,” Groban wrote in an email. “But we were all confident in how wonderful the project was going to make the town look when it was done, and it didn’t disappoint.”
Mayor Dave Druker said residents have so far been “pretty enthusiastic” about the final product. He said the outcome drives home the idea of Camino Del Mar becoming “more of a parkway than just a highway.”
“Those trees will slowly mature and make it even more lush,” he said. “ … I think most of the people agree that it is pretty much what they were looking for.”
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.