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‘Whitney project’ condo/commercial building opens to occupants in La Jolla Shores

The “Whitney project” is a mixed-use development at 2202 and 2206 Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A controversial three-story mixed-use development in La Jolla Shores that became known as the “Whitney project” has opened to occupants.

The 30-foot-tall, 8,500-square-foot building at 2202 and 2206 Avenida de la Playa features condominiums on the upper floors, which welcomed residents Aug. 1. The goal for the ground-floor commercial space is to find a restaurant to rent it, according to Todd Noe, a specialty steel door designer and manufacturer for the project.

The building also features balconies and decks on the second and third floors, landscaping on El Paseo Grande, creeping fig plants covering the exterior walls of the first and second floors, and setbacks at the corner of Avenida de la Playa and El Paseo Grande and on the east property line.

“Some people in the neighborhood were worried this was going to be this monstrosity that was coming in, that didn’t belong, that would be an eyesore. But it was the owner’s purpose to create something that was beautiful for the neighborhood, fit in with other architecture in La Jolla and be something beneficial to the community,” Noe said during a walk-through.

“The aesthetics were the priority of the owner [La Jolla Shores resident Bob Whitney], more so than the budget,” Noe said. “They wanted something that was going to look nice and function well. For me, it was nice to work with someone that cared about that. My business is in the details, and the details were everything in this project.”

Todd Noe stands in the vacant ground floor of a new mixed-use development in La Jolla Shores.
Todd Noe, a specialty steel door designer and manufacturer, stands in the vacant ground floor of a new mixed-use development in La Jolla Shores.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

For example, the arched doorways and windows are made with hand-forged steel rather than machine-made frames out of aluminum or vinyl. The ground-floor front door features an off-center pivot hinge to revolve open.

“The doors and windows all open, so while it is an interior space, you can take advantage of the weather and the ocean breeze,” Noe said. “[The ground floor] has intentionally been left as an open floor plan so once the right restaurant owner [rents the space] they can come in and put in the finishing touches. It’s a blank canvas for someone to come along and have their dream become a reality.”

He said there is no timeline for a ground-floor occupant moving in, but “there has been quite a bit of interest.”

The project was considered locally and at the city level for more than nine years before construction began. It was approved by the San Diego Planning Commission in April 2015 and the San Diego City Council in October 2015.

A lawsuit headed by a group of Shores residents led by land-use attorney Julie Hamilton was filed against the project after it got the green light. It asked that the project approvals be set aside because the property would set a precedent for other development in the area and the information on which its approval was based is questionable.

“This project would change the character of that center of The Shores,” Hamilton said when the suit was filed. “It would be the largest in terms of bulk and scale, with the exception of one other building. The project does not provide visibility triangles for that intersection (lines of sight for pedestrians and vehicles), which gets busy in the summer.”

When the suit failed, Hamilton took it to the California 4th District Court of Appeal, where it also was denied. ◆