Solana Beach, California in 2038 – The Repurposing of Solana Spring Plaza

“We welcome you today to the unveiling of the new Solana Spring Plaza that will become the heart and soul of our city. It will be the place where you can shop, work, and most importantly, live.”

That is the opening statement at the Solana Spring Plaza’s commencement ceremony in the year 2038. So, how did we arrive at this hypothetical point? Also, what makes this new space so special?

As part of Strategistico’s Future Series, we take a forward look into the potential cityspace of places across the globe. Today, we will focus on Solana Beach, California, a city right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean that is about 30 minutes north of San Diego.

We envisage that this quiet community will continue to thrive, especially due to some key events, and will be forerunners of modern city planning and design concepts.

Of course, it is impossible to predict exactly how things will materialize, but we wanted to test some of these theories out on a model city and see if some featured elements can be applied elsewhere.

Let’s take a look at the future at the warm, sandy shores of Solana Beach.

Background – Development of Solana Beach from 2029

First, let’s take a step back and find out how Solana Beach planned and developed its spaces before 2038. Solana Beach was put on the map in the year 2029, when the San Diego area hosted the first ever Spring Olympic Games.

Solana Beach was chosen to host parts of the surfing competition and was also a primary area for the athlete’s housing. Therefore, Solana Beach decided to build a mini Olympic Village that incorporated dormitories for the athletes, which they knew they could repurpose after the games.

They chose to build their structures right in between the coast and Highway 101 near Fletcher Cove Beach Park.

Overall, they needed to house roughly 3,000 athletes, construct an area for dining, and have a space for media and recreation. So, they decided to build a set of floating structures over Highway 101, the train tracks, and the Solana Beach Station parking lot.

Essentially, they were able to develop a thin, long area that was only about 350 feet wide and roughly 1,200 feet long. The full development for the games totaled 8 buildings – 6 designated for housing, 1 for food and leisure activities, and 1 for media relations. They also included a charming public space designed as an urban landscape garden that became the town square.

They also constructed an elevated walking path that connected pedestrians and bikers directly to the beach from the square.

The use of the initial structures was a success for the games. It was lauded as a modern, innovative design that was built sustainably and could be easily repurposed for the permanent residents of Solana Beach.

Idle Years of the Solana Beach Olympic Village – 2030 to 2035

The long-term plan was always to reuse the existing buildings and transform it into something useful for the community. But, the exact details were never fully agreed upon at the beginning of the planning cycle and were then hotly debated during the years that followed the Spring Games.

There was heavy pressure to convert all of the buildings to private commercial and residential entities, but the city wanted to retain control and offer the majority of the space back to the community.

There were also calls for the buildings to be fully converted into affordable housing as the area’s rising property values continued to price people out of the Solana Beach market. 

These back-and-forth discussions went on for nearly 5 years as the site sat mostly dormant. Some of the residential buildings remained active and were used for student dorms for University of California San Diego students.

Finally, in 2035, it was decided that the city would lead the redevelopment of the property and would try to balance the needs of the private sector while still providing access and amenities to the public.

Solana Spring Plaza – California’s Shining Beacon

Today, we help unveil the crowning jewel of California’s coastline. 3 years of development work has yielded Solana Spring Plaza, the multi-use lifestyle hub that has been repurposed from the 2029 Spring Olympic Games’ buildings.

Let’s take a look at a breakdown of each building and reveal its new role in Solana Spring Plaza.

First, the 6 housing developments have been repurposed to provide a blend of residential units and office space. The residential opportunities will be part of what will be called “The Rings at Solana Spring Plaza” and will offer a mixture of affordable units, modest offers, and luxury properties.

The office spaces will be primarily open space designs that offer flexibility as well as co-sharing areas that can help small businesses make use of office space at reasonable rates.

Next, the media relations building has been converted into an extension of the town square. It features a unique, semi-indoor and semi-outdoor design and will offer extra space for community events such as farmers markets, concerts, and job fairs. There is also a new playground and sports area, which will feature swings and slides for kids, basketball courts, tennis courts, and even a skateboarding park. 

In addition, the town square has been updated to house an urban garden that is open to the public along with additional seating and dining areas to encourage the community to congregate in the space.

Finally, the food and leisure hall was transformed into a commercial space for small businesses. Businesses will have the chance to rent a shipping container for a fixed amount per month through a short-term lease. If the business succeeds, it could continue to add extra months onto their rental agreement. If the business flourishes and they also need more space, then they could also rent another shipping container to be added on top of their existing space.

Over time, the containers can be reused to help manage the expanding and contracting sizes of the businesses in the plaza.

There is currently space for 14 businesses, which have all been occupied for opening day. In fact, there is a 4 year waiting list to have access to rent the next available space.

The 14 businesses that will help kick-off Solana Spring Plaza are:

  • Solana Spring Plaza Bar and Grill – food
  • Midnight Flame Eatery – food
  • Giovanni’s Famous Gelateria – food
  • Vegan Delight Crafthouse – food
  • Taco Madness – food
  • Bubba’s Blue Bell Burgers – food
  • The Senator Craft Brewery – bar
  • Pickwick Pub and Chips – bar
  • Speedy Wheels – retail
  • Zero Waste Solana – retail
  • Nick’s Workshop – retail
  • Sadie Desire’s Boutique – retail
  • Dominick’s Barber Shop – services
  • Solana Table to Farm – services 

Investments were also made to upgrade the existing electric grid infrastructure under the plaza. Now, the whole parking lot of the Solana Beach train station supports electric charging, while the bus terminal has been upgraded to allow for a full fleet of electric buses to operate from the station.

The train and bus terminal has also been integrated into Solana Spring Plaza, making public transit connections as seamless as possible. Commutes to San Diego also will take less time on the new, high-speed rail line and autonomous buses that can shuttle people back and forth in under 15 minutes.

The Future of Solana Beach and Solana Spring Plaza

The vision is for Solana Spring Plaza to become the leading example of how to repurpose existing facilities into something that can provide dynamic and equitable opportunities for the whole community. Virtually all aspects of a vibrant society can be found in Solana Spring Plaza, where the whole city can come together to live, work, and play. The addition of the flexible commercial space also helps to make Solana Spring Plaza futureproof and able to respond to the changing needs of the city.

In turn, we believe that Solana Spring Plaza will help generate new interest and demand into the city’s economy and propel it to greater heights. It will certainly attract new businesses and residents with its modern housing and office concepts, which will then help the new local businesses prosper.