Sam Borgese | 10th Street
Depending on how you interpret the date the Harvest Ranch Market at the Del Mar Plaza could disappear in November of this year or February 2012.
The Del Mar Plaza Specific Plan mandates that the Plaza tenants include a community market for twenty-five years. How time flies. The Specific Plan was approved on November 17, 1986 with voter approval as a condition. The voters approved the Plan three months later in February 1987.
The mandate for a market along with a mandate for a number of other resident serving businesses that existed in the original center was a pivotal negotiating point in gaining voter approval. The original center and its businesses were the heart of the community. A place for residents to meet or greet each other and a place to watch the sunset from an unparalled vantage point as you completed your everyday errands. People got a haircut, bought, sold or rented homes, selected fresh flowers, arranged for beer and liquor delivered to their home, shopped for groceries and stood and discussed families, politics and other topics of the day.
The new Plaza, albeit a more sophisticated experience, still offers some of the same opportunities to meet your neighbors and adds a few new shopping experiences (especially woman’s specialty clothing). It certainly offers residents and their guests a pleasant viewing point for sunsets while providing breakfast, lunch and dinner complimented by ocean and coastline views. And for the next nine to twelve months or so you can shop for groceries.
So the bargain for approval of the Plaza has, to a degree, worked in favor of residents. However, despite its official expiration date, this bargain is rendered void should a market not exist. The market was the heart of the original center. It was the main negotiating element for approval of the Plaza Specific Plan. And without a market the Plaza converts to predominately a tourist or regional visitor shopping center pushing the community to margins.
The new Plaza owners need to visit their property and find a viable solution to maintaining a market and also consider replacing vacant or existing tenants with the type of tenants that existed in the original center – resident serving business that also offer visitors a unique village like shopping experience.
Some communities would welcome a shopping center with a tenant roster of chain retailers offering the same repeated shopping experience over and over again. It is the unique community that offers residents and visitors alike a fresh and compelling experience that leaves an unmistakable and meaningful mark on your memory.
Del Mar is one of those unique communities and its shopping center needs to reflect that uniqueness by not allowing the market to become another non-resident serving business.