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Dreams on Track:
E is the Ticket

Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive

Dream Wall at City Hall. Courtesy Miller Hull.
Click on image to enlarge.

The City Hall/Town Hall project is progressing so far without a hitch. Presentations to the City Council and involved citizens on June 1 and 15 were greeted with enthusiasm and produced a consensus on a basic plan which will be developed into a schematic design to be reviewed by the Council July 20.

“You have to start with the parking,” explained Mike Jobes, principal with the Miller Hull Partnership, on June 1, taking his audience through the logical steps that led to three initial alternative designs, A, B and C. Feedback from the Council and citizens at that meeting helped the firm evolve two final alternatives, D and E, unveiled on June 15. Mr. Jobes confided he favored Concept E and thought citizens and the Council would also prefer it. And so they did.

Dividing the lot in three sections aligned parallel to Camino Del Mar, he showed how parking could be concentrated in the middle section at two underground levels (55 stalls each) with access and surface parking (50) in the western section. Option E locates the Town Hall on Camino Del Mar (a ‘beacon’) in the southeast corner linked by a trellis-covered breezeway to the City Hall at the south end of the middle section. Compared to option B both buildings were moved further south, yet still left room to the south for small courtyards. The Town Hall includes a Main Hall with adjoining support room in the south part and opens onto a patio to the north, leading to the Plaza.

Concept E. Courtesy City of Del Mar
Click on image to enlarge.

One result of the feedback was that City Hall (9250 sq. ft.) and Town Hall (3200) should share a common lobby. Another was that they not form a north-south bloc across the middle section, which would obscure the ocean views. Other considerations were an acoustic buffer and view privacy for westerly neighbors, a windbreak to the west for the Plaza, providing a civic beacon on Camino Del Mar, and providing for expansion potential.

The patio and breezeway played an important role in the discussion about the capacity of the multipurpose Town Hall. Using fire code limits , the Main Hall of the Town Hall, at 1500 sq. ft. could accommodate 300 standing, 214 sitting and 100 at tables. Opening that space onto the breezeway would add 160, 114 and 53 places respectively, with possible overflow to the patio for a total of 620, 442, and 206. And with future expansion the Town Hall could grow to 4700 sq. ft. without destroying the design of the whole.

Several citizens argued for an expansion of the Main Hall to accommodate a table seating capacity of 250. Betty Wheeler and Judd Halenza of the Del Mar Foundation spoke from their experience of limited space at the Powerhouse affecting a number of civic events. Only Councilman Worden supported the indoor 250 at tables; the other four stuck with 250 sitting indoors taking into consideration expansion in the breezeway and patio.

Also balancing wishes with budget constraints was the issue of a small catering kitchen. The Council supported the addition of 500 sq. ft. including storage, for a ‘small’ catering kitchen which would bring the Town Hall total to about 4000 sf (up from the original limit of 3200).

Finally, there seemed to be an understanding that the Heritage Center or Alvarado House could be accommodated in one of the expansion areas, most likely in the southwest corner on 10th Street where it originally stood. Another shared assumption was that the Del Mar Foundation and Del Mar Community Connections would find their homes on the Shores property where they have established themselves.
The budget is still conjectural. Mike Jobes spoke of the escalating costs of construction, while reassuring the Council that they would still be in the ballpark.


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