The Coast News Group
A Design Review Board ruling on plans to demolish Bully’s North and replace it with a larger-capacity restaurant was delayed until Nov. 15 because story poles were installed incorrectly. Courtesy rendering
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Ruling delayed on project to replace Bully’s

DEL MAR — Construction impacts rather than those that could occur when the new business opens were of more concern during an Oct. 25 Design Review Board hearing for a proposal to demolish Bully’s North and replace it with a larger-capacity restaurant.

Beverly Hills-based Hillstone Restaurant Group is planning to build a 4,768-square-foot, one-story eatery on a podium over an alley-level parking lot and two-level subterranean parking garage.

Board members, residents and nearby business and property owners, who mostly said they support the project, said noise caused by the excavation alone — expected to require more than 1,100 truckloads and take up to 100 days to complete — will disrupt neighboring businesses that include lawyers, a psychologist, Sea Change Preparatory School and En Fuego Cantina and Grill.

“No one’s more excited than I am to have a new neighbor,” said John Wingate, owner of the latter. “I’m not concerned about when they’re open. … What we’d all, I think, like to do is just hit fast forward and just get it open.”

Wingate also said Hillstone should be conscious of Del Mar’s busy summer season.

“So let’s not break ground in June,” he added.

Leasing agent Steve Willmore sought assurances that there would be no structural damage to his clients’ building just to the north. He asked for a promise of compensation if there is, as well as for any loss of business during construction.

Matt Bator, the city’s senior planner, said requests such as those, and for when construction starts, are outside the purview of the Design Review Board. However, he said those concerns can be addressed during the permit process

During an environmental review and two Community Participation Program meetings, residents also voiced concerns about noise and traffic during and after construction, a potential loss of the parking lot commonly used by the public and circulation conflicts caused by increased traffic and deliveries in the narrow alley west of the building.

DRB members also said west-facing windows should be inoperable to prevent noise impacts to the residential neighborhood behind the restaurant.

The new business will accommodate 62 to 68 indoor dining patrons, with an additional 28 patio dining seats and 28 bar seats, for a maximum capacity 118 to 124. Bully’s seats about 55 people inside.

The replacement restaurant will be no more than 14 feet high, which is about 3 feet lower than the existing building that was built in 1929. Brian Biel with Hillstone said it will probably close at 11 p.m., one hour earlier than Bully’s.

Seventy-eight parking spaces are required. Eighty-two are proposed. Employees will park onsite.

During public comment, Glenn Sage and Sarah Howard said anyone standing on a proposed deck would look directly into their master bedroom.

“We’d like to see this project go forward, but it’s got to be workable … where we’re not completely inconvenienced and put out,” Sage said.

The city received eight emails supporting the project.

Ryan and Merrie Craig wrote that they are “always excited to see new business in our town” and “believe it will only enhance our beautiful community even more.”

“We’re really honored to be working on this site,” architect Hunter Fleetwood said. “We know how important it is to the community and we’ve tried really hard to pay homage to the scale of that building.”

He said an earlier scheme didn’t include patio dining, but it was added in response to community input and the “pedestrian focus of the community.”

To address alley concerns, Biel said Hillstone will try to use companies with smaller delivery trucks and require them to be used for the Del Mar restaurant.

“I like the essential plan,” board member Bill Michalsky said, adding that there’s “no easy way to mitigate construction problems.”

“They have to be allowed to build these things,” he said.

The story poles were installed incorrectly so a final ruling on the project was delayed until Nov. 15. The board allowed the poles to be in place a few days less than the required 15 this time so they could be down during the Breeders’ Cup at the nearby Del Mar Race Track on Nov. 3 and 4.