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Plaza renovation receives extension

SOLANA BEACH — The transformation of Lomas Santa Fe Plaza into a “lifestyles” center won’t begin for at least another 10 months. At the March 10 City Council meeting, property owner American Assets received a one-year extension for the project, located on Lomas Santa Fe Drive east of Interstate 5.
Without it the permits would have expired next month and a new application would have been required for the redevelopment.
Since the original approval in April 2009, economic conditions have declined considerably, making preleasing difficult, John Chamberlain, president of American Assets, wrote in his request for the extension.
“Our leasing team is aggressively marketing this project, and we have developed an interest list of potential tenants that would consider Solana Beach for future or growing business,” Chamberlain wrote. “It is our intention to target potential user groups from our interest list that would best support the demands of the property and surrounding community.”
At the same time, Chamberlain said, his company is preparing a request for proposal from local architectural firms to further develop the plans.
“It is our intention and desire to proceed with obtaining a building permit and commencing construction within the extension period,” he wrote.
About 6 of the 18.8 acres of the plaza, built in the 1970s, are being redeveloped as a “lifestyles” center, an industry term for a retail area that provides high-end shops and pedestrian amenities such as outdoor seating, public art, plaza areas and landscaping. The project is being designed to encourage pedestrian activity.
Almost 20,000 square feet of the existing retail, restaurant and office space between Vons and Ross Dress for Less will be demolished and replaced with 65,300 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurant space, for a net gain of about 45,500 square feet.
Three two-story buildings will be connected by a central rotunda. The Vons supermarket will remain as is. The project includes a two-level underground parking structure.
The city notified property owners within 300 feet of the project about the extension request. No comments were received.
Chamberlain said he hopes to award contracts by May and begin construction in January 2012.