Plaza Lands in Local Hands
Betty Wheeler | Seaview Avenue
All photos of the Plaza by Betty Wheeler. Click to enlarge.
More photos at the bottom of the page.
The sale of the Del Mar Plaza to new owner Westcore Properties is something we hope will be good news for Del Mar. Many residents have perceived that distant, inattentive ownership and management have resulted in a Plaza that has significantly underperformed in recent years, and has failed to meet its potential, both in serving local residents, and in attracting visitors and residents from the greater region. The Sandpiper caught up by email with Del Mar resident Marc Brutten, founder and chairman of Westcore, with four questions about the Plaza and its future.
Q: Your Westcore bio says your mission cornerstone is to identify underperforming real estate assets and create value in these assets for the long term. Can you share some of your ideas and vision for turning around the Plaza’s performance? A: The Del Mar Plaza needs to become relevant again and can become so with a combination of design, signage, activity, landscape, color and lighting. It has become dull and listless today. My vision exceeds your word limits but succinctly—Del Mar Plaza needs to be the center of town from a commerce, entertainment and dining perspective.
Q: How do you see repositioning the Plaza to function more successfully? A: By creating an event driven experiential plaza, which will require the cooperation of the City and its citizens. We will need to engender a sense of place, catering to the needs of the community and combining activated public spaces with music, eclectic food offerings and unusual retail shops, some of which will enable omni channel mobile and on line capabilities.
Q: How do you think your perspective as a Del Mar resident will affect the Plaza? A: It has a huge effect, since this project will be our family’s focus for years to come. It is literally 200 yards from our front door and our aim is to make it a great contributor to the Del Mar experience if the City will let us do so.
Q: While Del Marians don’t expect the grocery store to come back, do you envision any possibilities for a market space featuring artisanal foods? (I’m thinking here of a smaller space akin to The Ferry Building or Pike Market.) A: We would like to add a specialty market back to the Plaza as soon as possible but two things would need to happen. We would need to identify the correct space in the Plaza that offers customers convenience, and we would need the City’s assurance that it wants to see that use in the center again, as I have been told that the last market suffered when the City brought in a farmers market that cut into the Plaza market’s sales.
The tenants on the upper deck have underperformed due to lack of signage, wayfinding and lighting from both cross streets. If we are going to succeed, we need everyone’s cooperation moving forward.