Sam Borgese | 10th Street
The Del Mar Plaza Specific Plan element that requires a food market of approximately 9000 SF in the Plaza is expiring in less than 24 months and with that expiration date looming the potential of losing the food market will be the subject of conversation for many who see the food market as the last highly visible element of the original retail center that once occupied the Plaza site.
Despite a series of attempts by various market operators the food market has had a spotty history of financial performance and recently has deteriorated into mostly a wine store with an ever-diminishing selection of other grocery items and necessities. As the current market operator begins to expose their fatigue from numerous failed remerchandising plans the permanent demise of the market appears all but certain.
However that demise does not have to become reality and residents of Del Mar should insist that a better effort is made by the recently changed Plaza ownership to continue the food market for another 25 years albeit with an effort that meets the general rule of the Del Mar Specific Plan which states that all of the uses of the Del Mar Plaza be “resident serving.”
Certainly a remerchandising plan that incorporates an excellent yet broadly priced wine and spirits selection with related accessories would fill a meaningful portion of the space A cooking school with a moderate selection of kitchen accessories would be a welcome department. A selection of artisan foods and products from farms and food producers that practice or support sustainable farming along with a compliment of meats and fowl from farm animals instead of factory processed animals. Pastry and bread baked on premise in small lots would be fitting compliment to the preceding products. Starting with a theme of green consumer interests, the new food market could offer more daily household products that are fabricated from recycled material, detergents and solvents that are less harmful to our water system. The desired new food market would also make home deliveries.
Of course all of the above items are often more expensive than industrially produced products however there may be a solution to that pricing challenge. Residents could form a Del Mar Co-op. Co-ops are an excellent business structure when people are willing to support their needs and requirements with some volunteer time and small monthly or annual dues. Think Trader Joes with a Del Mar twist.
Rest assured that as the expiration of the food market requirement under the Plaza Specific Plan draws closer, the community conversation will grow louder and sides will be drawn for and against keeping the market.
Let’s take this potential loss and turn it into an opportunity to create a market that provides products and services for residents at affordable prices. This was the assumption and expectation underlying the first 25 year Specific Plan. We should make it a reality for the next 25 years.