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La Jolla DPR hears plans for 23,000-square-foot, nine-unit development on Coast Boulevard South

A rendering depicts a development proposed for the 800 block of Coast Boulevard South.
A rendering depicts a development proposed for the 800 block of Coast Boulevard South, as presented to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee on Oct. 11.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Three cottages would be remodeled and six new three-story townhouses would be built. Lingering questions mean the project will return at a future meeting.

A proposal to redevelop two lots with historic cottages on them along Coast Boulevard South almost got the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee’s backing during its first review Oct. 11 as the lone item on the agenda. But with questions remaining about how the extensive project would look among its neighbors, as well as other issues, the project will return at a future meeting for a vote.

The plan calls for coastal development, site development and neighborhood development permits and a tentative map to consolidate two lots into one. It also would demolish five structures at 813-821 Coast Blvd. South; remodel and add to a non-historic property at 811 Coast Blvd. South; remodel and add to a historic property at 825 Coast Blvd. South; relocate, remodel and add to a historic property at 827 Coast Blvd. South; and build six new three-story townhouses over an underground garage. The project would total 23,591 square feet of development.

The applicant team includes DPR Chairman Brian Will, co-owner of La Jolla’s Will & Fotsch Architects (who recused himself from his DPR role), Will & Fotsch co-owner Andy Fotsch and property owner Dawn Davidson.

Will called it “a pretty exciting project” that will have a floor area ratio — the size of a structure in relation to its lot — of 1.2 where 1.5 is allowed, nine units where 13 are allowed, and triple the current number of parking spaces.

He said the new development would “only be 1½ feet taller” than the tallest existing structure on the property.

This lot in the 800 block of Coast Boulevard South is planned for a 23,591-square-foot development.
(Screenshot by Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The team said the project has been reviewed by local historic planning groups and applicable city of San Diego development review departments.

“This area is really special,” said Davidson, who has developed on other historic properties in the area. “When we found the property, we met very early on with [applicable planning groups] to determine which cottages were [historically] relevant.”

Their research determined that one of the historic cottages currently at the back of the property and hidden from public view is important, so Davidson got clearance to move it to the front.

Thus, the frontage would consist of three houses: a historic unit that will stay in place, the historic cottage in the back that will be moved to the front, and a third, non-historic cottage that is currently on the frontage and will undergo a remodel that will keep 50 percent of the original walls.

“What makes the project successful,” Will said, is the way the front properties were treated. “We could have [taken the non-historic structure and] demolished it and made it more of a modern structure … and could have increased the square footage. But putting those two historic cottages next to a third cottage that is respectful of the historical character … really sets the stage for them to be successful.”

While the front units will be visible from the street, the six new three-story townhouses in the back will stack vertically and be largely hidden from public view, Will said. The townhouse development is set in a way that adheres to local height limits, he added.

Parking for the townhouses would be accessed through what appears to be a garage door under one of the front units that leads to a two-way driveway and the parking garage.

La Jollan Jim Fitzgerald called the development “a breath of fresh air” and applauded that the new building was not designed at the maximum size allowed.

But area resident Victor Krebs said the project is “just under the wire” in terms of height and contended it involves “dropping a four-story building on the master pad in the back.” Will noted that the development is three stories and a basement garage and that basements are not counted as a story in city code.

Kurt Norden, executive director of the Casa de Mañana retirement community across the street, said the plans “look beautiful” but that he’s concerned about construction-related noise and how the safety of residents trying to cross the street amid the construction would be protected.

Will said the team is six to nine months from the start of construction, followed by 18-24 months of building. He said would work with Norden about his concerns in the meantime.

Any preliminary review by the DPR Committee can be made final by unanimous vote. But trustee Angeles Leira voted against approving the project on its first hearing. She said she wanted to see more details about the development, views of the parking and expanded views of the surrounding properties to show how the project would fit with its neighbors.

Thus, the proposal will return at a future DPR meeting. ◆