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Del Mar Highlands center to be expanded, renovated

This conceptual rendering shows the plan to makeover Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Courtesy image

The Donohue Schriber private real estate investment trust is planning an 80,000-square-foot expansion and upgrade of its current 283,000-square-foot Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

Elizabeth Schreiber (not to be confused with the similar name of the company), Donahue Schriber vice president and general manager, said although the center is entitled to be maxed out at 425,000 square feet, growing to a 363,000-square-foot center will be ambitious enough.

“Our plans will be responsive to the Carmel Valley community’s needs and within what was originally approved for the property,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber said the currently 100 percent leased center at Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real in the Carmel Valley area will be upgraded in phases beginning with the parking. Perkowitz + Ruth Architects out of Long Beach, which is also handling the design of the 33,626-square-foot La Plaza boutique shopping center in downtown La Jolla, is the architect for this project as well.

Major tenants at the center include a 28,000-square-foot Cinepolis, 45,000-square-foot Ralphs and a 23,714-square-foot Rite-Aid store among others.

The center, which already has 1,603 parking spaces, will see that figure increase by a additional 600. Work on the new three-level parking structure is scheduled to get underway this fall.

"We have been a victim of our own success," Schreiber said, adding that the center's employees park at Torrey Pines High School during the Christmas season.

The increase in parking spaces comes at the expense of an 11,564-square-foot Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) bookstore that reportedly hasn't been having any difficulties.

Other tenants such as Unleashed by Petco; the Pearl Izumi bike wear store; and Village Mill Bread are expected to relocate to other parts of the center.

"Barnes & Noble was the only one we couldn't accommodate," Schreiber said. "We just don't have any place to put them."

While Barnes & Noble is expected to have to vacate in July, another notable tenant, Cinepolis, will be adding three screens to the eight screens it already has.

Schreiber recalled that when the theater was a more conventional multiplex, it had 1,700 seats. That figure became 562 seats when Cinepolis came in.

"It has stadium risers, the seats are like La-Z-Boys and you can order drinks at two of the theaters," Schreiber said.

By 2016, Schreiber said plans call for developing a new facility for the Kindercare day care operation at another place in the center. While the old Kindercare building will be demolished to make way for the new construction, that won't happen until Kindercare can make its move.

The 80,000-square-foot addition to the center will be both at ground level and on a second story. Schreiber said a yoga business might be the type of an enterprise suitable for that second floor.

Schreiber added that the new parking structure will provide easy access to businesses on the second level.

"We're also going to renovate the center between Jimbo's (Naturally!) and the Kindercare," Schreiber said.

The 14-building Del Mar Highlands property had been acquired by a joint venture Donahue Schriber and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $60 million in 2010 until Donahue Schriber acquired the pension group's interest in the center last summer. The property had been owned by Pardee Construction prior to 2010.

Last fall saw the addition of Snooze, a new breakfast restaurant. One fast food eatery, Carnitas' Snack Shack has performed well enough that it plans to open a second outlet at Del Mar Highlands. Carnitas is taking over a space that was vacated by The Counter burger chain last December.

The CeramiCafe Art Lounge, is another new tenant at Del Mar Highlands. It is best known for giving customers the chance to paint their own pottery and is next to a Gepetto's store.

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