If you’ve recently driven down Highway 101 in Solana Beach, you’ve surely noticed the rundown buildings and unkempt landscape that sit across the pedestrian bridge from Cedros Design District. The 1.9-acre eye-sore has been the subject of debate for years – a highly desirable piece of land that can’t seem to attract the right tenant. The now vacant lot has housed a trailer park, a coffee stand, a bike store, and a gas station. None of the past uses sufficient for such a prime location.
For years, developers have come and gone, presenting plans inevitably met with general disdain. In March 2015, American Assets Trust presented a proposal for a 3-story complex anchored by a 20,000 square-foot grocery store. Between blocked views and an unwanted traffic influx, quick rejection met the proposal and the land was back on the market by the end of the year.
It was at that time that Zephyr, an Encinitas-based development company, purchased the land. While appearing to some as simply another temporary player in the revolving door of developers, Zephyr made sure to avoid past mistakes in producing a design that many have deemed worthy of the prized location on the revitalized Highway 101 corridor.
The Proposed Development
The properly named Solana 101 intends to be the first large-scale commercial development in the area in 40 years. Initial designs have laid out 95,000 square-feet of residential, retail, restaurant and office space. The residential space would consist of 7 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom apartments while the restaurants would be “chef-driven”. Due to sightline issues presented by the AAT project, the larger development has been scaled down to two-stories and spread out over more space. Additionally, major points of emphasis for Solana 101 were walkability and connectivity. While there will be over 300 parking spaces, the garage will be underground making pedestrian access a priority.
Zephyr held the first of two open houses on October 28th, during which the developers introduced the initial proposal. The next Solana 101 open house will take place on November 18th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. These on-site gathering are primarily for gauging the public interest on the project. In the coming weeks, a state-mandated environmental review is due for completion. Assuming everything is approved, Solana residents will be able to share their thoughts and concerns about the project during the public comment period. From there, the city council would vote on the proposal, with the desired construction date set for late-2018.