Officials broke ground on the controversial, $7.5 million mixed-use development project One Paseo Wednesday.
The project, set on a 24-acre site across El Camino Real from the Del Mar Highlands Center, was approved 8-1 by the City Council June 2016.
The downsized mixed-use project will include 608 multi-family units, shops, restaurants, offices and public plazas.
"The vibe what we're looking for was always to deliver on the spirit of community, and while things have changed in square footage, things have changed in design as part of community input -- that has never changed," said Nelson Ackerly, senior vice-president of San Diego Kilroy Realty.
For several years, One Paseo was an issue that resonated far beyond its epicenter in Carmel Valley. Neighborhoods along State Route 56, as well as Del Mar and other nbearby cities, had opinions on the project.
The initial project was cut down and later approved by the City Council. In the smaller re-design offered by the developer, Kilroy Realty, retail space was reduced by almost two-thirds, and office space by close to half.
However, some critics say what remains is still too much. Dennis Green, a Carmel Valley resident and former NFL coach, told the City Council at a June hearing that the mix of the project's size in addition to its location would make it a "very bad deal".
Even after the redesign, there is still a pocket of opponents who feel they compromise is unworthy, if not legally suspect.
Early opponents and the Highlands Center objected to an original plan that was twice what the zoning allowed.
Their referendum drive confronted the Council with a choice between a citywide election measure -- or a do-over process.
That wound up in Kilroy’s smaller building heights, with greater "setbacks" from the streets, and a housing "element" of 608 condominium units.
The retail section of One Paseo is scheduled to open mid 2018, while the apartment homes and offices are expected to open between 2019 - 2020.