Redevelopment of former Copley site in La Jolla to incorporate early beach cottage architecture
Heritage on Ivanhoe
■ Location: Ivanhoe Avenue (between Silverado and Kline streets)
■ Developers: Michael Turk/Steve Cairncross
■ Largest residence: 3,000 square feet
■ Average residence: 2,300 square feet
■ Starting prices: $1.4 million
■ Features: Private elevator, roof deck, two-car garage, tank-less water heater, solar panels, hardwood floors
By Pat Sherman
The owners of a .72-acre residential property off Ivanhoe Avenue are moving forward with their redevelopment of the site, which will include 14 homes and elements of three existing beach cottages. The Copley family, former owners of U-T San Diego news media, once owned the property.
The project, titled Heritage on Ivanhoe, is a joint venture between developer Michael Turk and real estate broker Steve Cairncross. Pacific Beach-based Golba Architecture was brought on board to handle the historically inspired design.
The development, currently in the framing stage of construction, will include four new single-family detached homes and two restored beach cottages on Ivanhoe Avenue, as well four duplexes off Flint Lane, an alley at the rear of the property.
Of eight original beach cottages situated on the site, which were used by the Copley family as rental properties, only two were preserved, one of which, a 1908 Craftsman-style home at 7736 Ivanhoe Ave., has been deemed potentially historic by the city.
Per an agreement between the developers, the La Jolla Historical Society’s Preservation Committee and the San Diego-based Save Our Heritage Organisation, a third cottage off Flint Lane was supposed to be preserved and moved to 7722 Ivanhoe Ave. (at the far left of the property).
Though the San Diego Planning Commission’s Jan. 19 approval of site and coastal development permits for the project states that the Tudor-style structure was to be “relocated,” Cairncross said the cottage “fell apart, literally” when they attempted to move it.
A replica of the cottage will take its place, incorporating one of the original structure’s bay windows and “a fair amount” of serrated-edged wood siding used as roofline accents, architect Tim Golba said.
“We saved enough of the brick off the chimney so that we can match it fairly precisely,” Golba said, not- ing that one of the major problems with trying to relocate the structure was its lack of a foundation.
“It was basically sitting on four concrete blocks,” he said. “We could tell very early on that it was unmovable in a contiguous fashion.”
Golba said the Tudor-style cottage was most likely relo- cated there at some point in its history, and a pitched, Victorian-style roof added during the 1950s. Such alterations to a potentially historic structure often result in the city deeming the property to have suffered a “loss of integrity,” thus making it not worthy of preservation. Its single-wall construction also wouldn’t meet today’s seismic standards, Golba said.
Angeles Leira, a member of La Jolla Historical Society’s Preservation Committee, said most contractors in San Diego have little experience dealing with vintage structures.
“They’re not really careful with old things,” she said. “They don’t realize when you have to take apart something old and move it you have to be especially careful. This is not the first time that there’s been a ‘whoops!’ and something falls apart in the middle of a construction plan and they have to tear it down.”
Though developers do the best they can to replicate an original structure with modern materials, Leira said architectural details representing important periods are most often lost.
“The technology is just not there” to recreate it accurately, she said.
Preservation Committee Chair Leslie Davis said the committee was more actively involved in the process when it was still under the auspices of the Copley family and original architect James Alcorn.
“We thought we were making great progress,” Davis said. “We were very involved and made recommendations and felt that there was a compromise.
“It’s that sad, slow destruction of those vernacular beach cottages,” Davis lamented. “And they do have a tendency to disappear in the night.”
Though the Preservation Committee approved the Copley family’s plans, Leira said it opted not to take a position on the current development, due to minor concerns with the removal of a garden-arbor at the middle of the property.
“We were kind of struggling with that and the project went really fast,” she said. “We had no time to work with some of those issues.”
However, Golba and Turk said significant elements of the existing landscaping have been preserved, including a 70-foot-tall, century old Canary Island palm to the left of the existing cottages, and three mature Brazilian pepper trees along Ivanhoe Avenue.
The Copley family also planned to construct 14 homes at the site when they sold it to its current developer-owners, who were 90 percent through the coastal development permit process when the city requested they build closer to 31 units, the allowable density zoned for this site.
However, Turk and Cairncross said they agreed with preservationists that this density didn’t fit with the character of the neighborhood, and utilized a provision of the city’s General Plan allowing for lower density when a project contains historic elements.
“It became a little bit of a conflict,” Golba said. “Fortunately, the General Plan was well written.”
Golba said the existing cottages would receive an “aesthetic tune-up.” The front two-thirds of the buildings will remain, while the rear portion of the cottages (which are not original or historically significant)
will be torn down to make way for two-story, rear additions that will include aesthetic elements consistent with the original structures (as will the new single-family residences along Ivanhoe).
Energy efficient windows will be added to the preserved cottage at 7740 Ivanhoe, and the paint color of both cottages changed to a scheme that has yet to be determined — which may include determination and restoration of the structures’ original colors, Golba said.
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