Development plans for Foxhill estate approved by La Jolla permit reviewers

Renderings of a proposed development on the Foxhill estate
Renderings of a proposed development on the Foxhill estate, including the view from across a canyon that it abuts (top left), the view from the driveway (top right) and other views of the house.

Plans to redevelop the sprawling Foxhill estate in La Jolla that was home to the Copley publishing family and real estate developer Doug Manchester got the go-ahead from the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee during its Jan. 19 meeting, following a preliminary hearing last year.

The board voted to support the requested permits to create two lots, with the existing house on one lot, and another lot with a new 14,226-square-foot, two-story home with an attached garage, a pool house and a pool on a site containing environmentally sensitive land. The site is at 7007 Country Club Drive.

The findings will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification.

When the project was previously reviewed, concerns were expressed about the property’s proximity to a nature reserve and canyon and whether the view would be obstructed for residents of the Muirlands West and Country Club areas.

Speaking for the applicant, Kent Coston of Coston Architects said that although the property is near a nature reserve, “this project is not on the reserve, it has nothing to do with the reserve; it is entirely on Foxhill property.”

From across the canyon “you won’t see much,” Coston said, because the walls would be lowered and landscaping would camouflage the house.

La Jolla resident Jim Fitzgerald, who said his house “is literally right across the canyon from the back of Foxhill,” thanked the applicant for renderings that show the house as it would appear from across the canyon and agreed that “you’ll hardly see any difference with this new home.”

From the driveway — which Coston called the “worst-case scenario” for how much of the house would be seen — the view would be of a “12-foot-tall garage, a series of lower walls, brick and stucco and planting around them.”

Also of concern during previous presentations was the roof, which committee trustees said was too thin for such a large house. Coston previously said the applicant, whom he declined to identify, wants to take cues from the existing Foxhill residence, a French eclectic chateau style. As such, Coston said he wanted to use the same roof concept as the existing house “but lowered the slope and adjusted the proportions to work better.”

With some trepidation about the roof and whether it would encroach into the open space, DPR trustee Angeles Leira said the project still looks “a little crowded.”

“The thing about Foxhill is that it feels like a grand country house, like a villa in Europe, but a la California,” Leira said.

Nevertheless, a motion to support the project passed unanimously.

The current house on the Foxhill estate was built in 1959 by San Diego Union and Evening Tribune publisher James Copley.
The current house on the Foxhill estate was built in 1959 by San Diego Union and Evening Tribune publisher James Copley.

The current house was built in 1959 by San Diego Union and Evening Tribune publisher James Copley. Copley, his wife, Helen, and son David used it to entertain Hollywood celebrities, visiting royalty and, once, President Richard Nixon.

James Copley died in 1973. Helen Copley lived in the mansion until her death in 2004, and David until his in 2012. David had no heirs.

In 2015, the San Diego Historical Resources Board reviewed the property but ultimately did not deem it historic.

Manchester — former owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune and La Jolla Light and former President Donald Trump’s onetime appointee for U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas — bought the 32-acre estate for about $27 million in 2015.

In January 2020, Manchester listed the 8-acre main home and guesthouse for $25 million and the adjoining 24 acres for $12 million.

Manchester’s Manchester Foxhill LLC is still listed as the owner in San Diego County property tax records. ◆