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Changing Spaces
Ann Gardner, Via Latina

Most of the For Lease signs in the downtown area are for office space, according to Jen Grove, Executive Director of the Del Mar Village Association. She sees more retail coming in than leaving. Del Mar is faring better than other communities in the slumping economy, according to Grove, and several local real estate offices. Both sources say the beach town, village atmosphere will maintain Del Mar’s retail viability now and in the future.

In the meantime, offices are downsizing more than usual, Grove notes. She explained that many of the For Lease signs are for offices that had been auxiliary locations for bigger businesses scaling back in the recession. Some of the offices are moving to lesser rent areas such as Carmel Valley or Sorrento Valley. This might actually encourage more retail opportunities in Del Mar. For instance, a new wine bar, The Tasting Room, is replacing former office space on Camino Del Mar next to Giorgio’s Restaurant. In some cases existing retailers, such as Ladies Designer Resale, are expanding and moving to larger locations, choosing to stay in Del Mar.

According to Grove, Del Mar has an “untapped potential” for providing community-oriented retail services. She said many new young families have moved into old Del Mar, as well as nearby Del Mar Heights, Del Mar Terrace and Carmel Valley, in the last 10 years. We have the beach and the village atmosphere that draws young families to the Del Mar area, she explained, and they provide a growing consumer base that will support additional family-oriented, small town retail services.

She listed several examples of new businesses that cater to families: the Seaside Yogurt Shop, the Hillside Artisans Children’s Store and Rumi’s which just happens to be located at the Junior High School bus stop and sells hot dogs. Of course it is also the corner families pass on their way to and from the beach.

Grove also feels that Del Mar provides an alternative vacation destination for families deciding to cut back on travel expenses this year. As a result, we may experience higher than expected sales. “Why travel to European, even San Diego, beaches when the Del Mar beach and small town amenities are so close?” she commented. Grove wishes there were more public transportation options, such as the Junior High School bus that operates during the school year, to bring families from nearby communities. Parking continues to be a challenge for both local and near-local residents.


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