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Del Mar retail center looks to become more of a gathering space

Those who live and work in Del Mar will soon have new options for shopping and dining, as a $30 million makeover for the Flower Hill Promenade is almost complete.

Approximately 70,000 square feet of new building space has been constructed to the west end of the center. It will house a 30,000-square-foot Whole Foods, a 29,364-square-foot Sharp Rees Stealy medical office and 8,000 square feet of retail space.

A new four-level parking structure has been built behind the new structure.

On the old side of the outdoor two-level center, the entire place has been redesigned and improved for a more modern and open look.

New features include earth tone colors on the buildings; new walkway-flooring; water fixtures and added landscape including palm trees; courtyard for gathering and outdoor events; 800-square-foot outdoor children’s play area; and expanded entrance and parking lot with benches for a streetscape feel.

Lusardi Construction is the general contractor of the makeover project, and SGPA Architecture is the firm that designed the new look of the shopping and gathering center. Barnhart-Reese is the contractor in charge of interior work for the Sharp Rees Stealy medical offices.

“For the design we wanted to make it so it’s a seamless renovation with the old and the new part of the center,” Jeffrey Essakow, managing partner Protea Property Management Inc. which owns Flower Hill Promenade, said. “Our focus is to create a meeting space; a place for people to come and gather and not just shop and leave, and give it a vibe that historically it hasn’t had.”

All of the renovations to the Flower Hill Promenade are expected to be completed for the official grand opening of Feb. 27. The grand opening celebration is scheduled to last until March 3 with special events and sales.

Other new businesses coming into Flower Hill Promenade include Between the Sheets, Burger Lounge, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Corepower Yoga, Cucina Enoteca (to open in May), Malero, Modish Maternity, Opus Bank and Three Dog Bakery.

There are more than 50 spaces at the center and Esskow said the center is about 95 percent occupied.

“We want tenants with a high level of customer service [with] stores that will be actively run by owners and managers,” Essakow said.

It’s a renovation and expansion project that has been 10 years in the making since Essakow purchased the property.

“It’s a high-profile area,” Essakow said. “We wanted to buy and add value to it.”

Originally, Essakow wanted the expansion to be bigger and add 23 condo units, several office spaces, a new movie theater and a larger Whole Foods. But there was resistance from the community.

“They wanted to make sure we weren’t over-building the neighborhood,” Essakow said. “It was a challenge, but it ended up working fantastically well. They appointed a subcommittee, we appointed a subcommittee and we worked together to end up with what we have today.”

This will be the first time the Flower Hill Promenade, formerly the Flower Hill Mall, has had major renovations since it was built back in the 1970s.

According to Essakow, who is also the founder of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, 304 temporary jobs have been created during the construction process. In addition, the makeover project will bring in 206 more jobs for a total of more than 525 workers.

It is also estimated that the makeover will generate 55 percent more in sales tax revenue, with a projected $450,000 dedicated for transportation and mass transit uses.

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