Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Community support for the Flower Hill shopping mall expansion took another step forward September 1 when the Carmel Valley Planning subcommittee gave thumbs up to a new western elevation, terracing the second story above a new Whole Foods building and modifying existing buildings to blend in with the new. The subcommittee also seemed satisfied with simulations of view corridors looking east from I-5 and the Via de la Valle bridge toward the proposed four level above ground parking structure behind the new 40-foot high market/office building.
Approval of the architecture, massing and scale was one of ten conditions stipulated by the Board in July for final support of the project. The developers are moving ahead on the other conditions including review of the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which the developers are modifying in order to incorporate the Board’s and the community’s suggestions.
Flower Hill Promenade, with its neighborhood movie theatre, Book Works and Pannikin on Via de la Valle, is within San Diego City limits and the Carmel Valley Board provides advisory reviews for development in this area. In the works since 2004, the expansion generated controversy over its size and increased traffic. Numerous meetings were held in nearby communities, with the Board and its regional issues subcommittee to review project impacts.
On July 22, the Planning Board voted 11-3 to support the expansion with ten conditions including the follow up meeting to review the western elevation. Key factors in the Board’s support are: the project is reduced from the original plan by 100,000 square feet; landscape installation will “provide maturity at time of installation;” a controversial realignment of flower Hill Drive is eliminated, and the adjacent Spindrift homeowners group approved the latest plan. The developers also agreed to “not oppose the community’s desire for roundabouts at nearby intersections.”
The expansion plan eliminates the movie theatre and adds a 35,000 square foot Whole Foods Market on the first floor with office space above and a 400-car above ground parking structure behind. The current 112,116 square foot mall will be increased by an additional 61,000 lease-able space. The 94,000 square foot parking structure, a concern for some, does not count as additional square footage.
The Board has made clear that “support for this…project does not imply that the Board will support further densification or improvements. ”Current commercial zoning would allow additional square footage, and the Board is asking the City to update the land use plan taking into consideration the adjacent San Dieguito River Park, “an environmental asset of immense value to the region.”