La Jolla mixed-use project would replace Unocal 76 gas station on Pearl Street

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Land-use consultant Joe LaCava (right) shares details about a mixed-use project planned for the corner of Pearl Street and Eads Avenue (now a Unocal 76 gas station) during the Aug. 13 meeting of the Development Permit Review committee (architect Alex Faulkner looks on). LaCava is representing property owner Mark Conger.       Pat Sherman Photos

By Pat Sherman

The owner of land occupied by a Unocal 76 gas station at the corner of Pearl Street and Eads Avenue is moving forward with plans to redevelop his property. Mark Conger said he hopes to replace the station with a two-building mixed-use project that would include a restaurant and retail space on the bottom floor and residential units in both buildings.

Conger is seeking a coastal development permit and tentative map to remove the service station at 801 Pearl St. and construct four retail units, one restaurant and 12 condominiums with a subterranean garage (the entrance to which would be off Eads Avenue).

A two-story building would front Pearl Street (with two residential units on its second level), and a separate, three-story building comprised of 10 condos would be at the rear of the property.

The property falls within two different zones: La Jolla’s Planed District Ordinance zone (along Pearl Street) and a residential zone (at the rear of the property), though it will be developed as one complete parcel.

Land development consultant and La Jolla Community Planning Association Vice-chair Joe LaCava (representing Conger) gave an overview of the project during the April 13 meeting of the Development Permit Review (DPR) city advisory group. (The project was presented to the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance committee on Aug. 12).

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The owner of the property (housing a gas station since 1964) is seeking to develop a mixed-use project (at left) that would include 12 condominiums, plus ground-floor retail space and a restaurant.

Though La Jollans will have one less place to refuel their vehicles, the project would break up Pearl Street with an attractive façade and landscaping, LaCava said.

“Retail really requires a pedestrian friendly experience, and Pearl Street today is really anything but that,” he said. “Our little contribution to make Pearl Street a little more comfortable to walk along is to put a landscape buffer along the curb line.”

LaCava noted that there are several other three-story buildings on Pearl Street with a “big, boxy” appearance and little ornamentation.

“We wanted to create a different design aesthetic,” he said, noting that walls of the building would be offset at various locations to create a “more friendly experience from the pedestrian point of view.

“That is a technique we used throughout the entire project,” he said. “It softens the look of the building.”

Entrances to the residential units would be on the interior of the building, which would include 600 square feet of loading space. In addition, the third story of the rear building is set back from the curb by about 24 feet to soften the project’s overall appearance.

The front building is planned at about 24 feet tall, while the rear building is just under 30 feet, meeting La Jolla’s height limit requirement.

The project would include 24 parking spaces for residential units (including three tandem spaces), plus 13 spaces for the restaurant and seven for retail.

“The way La Jolla calculates parking requirements, we have one more than required,” LaCava said. “The way the city calculates parking, we’re way over (the requirement).”

An existing six-foot masonry wall dividing the rear of the property from residences on Eads will remain, as required by the city.

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