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Our Beloved North County Design District Turns up the Volume on its Destination Status

Alexandria Abramian | May 30, 2019 | Home & Real Estate

An exterior view of The Shack, Brian Church’s Cedros HQ, and a ruby red jeep ready to be loaded with the teams’ surfboards

Cedros Design District continues to lure the creative class with its historic Quonset architecture and of-the-moment mix of galleries, boutiques and even an urban winery. These three small blocks are dense with personality thanks to the legendary Belly Up Tavern and the grand treasure trove that is SoLo. Next up? 330 Cedros Ave. For a stretch punctuated by titans of architecture, the maiden mixed-use development is set to debut this fall with Cedros’ first luxury residences front row to the action.

“We envisioned a project that reflects the Cedros community and still provides something uniquely new to Solana Beach,” says developer Adam Robinson, president of RAF Pacifica Group. “There is a creative energy around Cedros that isn’t found elsewhere. It draws you in, which is why there are so many designers and architects on the street.”

Bixby & Ball in Cedros Design District is a charming, coastal-inspired interior design brand.

RAF tapped SGPA Architects for the project, which includes eight high-designed lofts as well as office space, retail, a parking structure and a sprawling yet-to-be-named restaurant. Meanwhile, down the way, architect Brian Church has transformed an old plumbing shack into his headquarters. Aptly named The Shack, the space has a sliding barn door that doubles as a wetsuit rack, and a side patio, where the design team hosts impromptu band sessions. Next door, Church is designing the forthcoming Barefoot Coffee Roasters, a Northern California brand that will serve organic coffee, craft ice cream, and charcuterie, among other delicious things.

Carruth Cellars is another popular spot in the area.

From sceny Lofty Coffee (local celeb sightings on the daily) to Carruth Cellars’ Urban Winery & Tasting Room, Cedros commands a strolling pace. Sun-washed most of the year and cooled by nearby coastal breezes, Solana Beach is nestled between Del Mar and Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and adjacent to Highway 101. Unlike tonier beach boroughs to the north, it’s kept its free spirit and cultural cred fully intact.

SoLo’s space was conceptualized by architect Jennifer Luce and has been in Cedros Design District for 17 years.

The BUT (as locals lovingly call Belly Up Tavern) serves double duty as next-big-thing incubator and beloved home to the stars. Architect Rob Wellington Quigley is behind the train station, a remarkable stunner signifying a grand arrival. Starchitect Jennifer Luce dreamed up the hangar space for Burton, the globally acclaimed landscape firm, and SoLo’s shops-within-shop concept. And Madison Gallery owner Lorna York brought art heft when she debuted her flagship. Swathed in light and curves, it is home to an elite art portfolio.

Even the boutiques in the pedestrian-friendly district carry luxe wares from a little farther afield: For 16 years, Tucci has built a tribe of sophisticated California-cool girls with a studied stock of everything from denim to diamonds. A jewelry case gleams with adornments from Foundrae, Retrouvaí and Spinelli Kilcollin. Across the way, Pink Lagoon keeps it fresh—and coveted—mixing elevated brands with holy-grail vintage from Decades in L.A.

Pink Lagoon carries elevated brands at its flagship store.

“All these malls have just made our street more valuable and interesting,” said SoLo founder Carole Carden, who has been holding court for 17 years and counting. “It’s always been a funky street and we fight to keep it original.”


Photography by: Marisa Troyano