Eye on the Pearl

David How and his partners bought the building from the owners of Del Mar French Laundry, the current tenants, in 2017, and the building next door in 2019.

Movement is afoot in Monterey’s Pearl District where, at the wishes of a range of development interests, city commissions and City Council over the last month have overturned rulings on the historic significance of several structures, clearing the way for future redevelopment plans.

Contrary to the opinions of Monterey’s Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission, City Council on June 1 determined the building at 508 Del Monte Ave., which hosts Del Mar French Laundry, is not historically significant.

The structure’s myriad alterations since its 1928 construction erased much of its historic integrity, City Council determined. The decision, which required surveys from three separate historians who disagreed on the building’s architectural style – Spanish Colonial Revival or Spanish Eclectic? – advances plans to redevelop the prominent piece of real estate, eventually, says property owner David How.

“It’s a waterfront property at the gateway to Monterey. I don’t think the highest and best use of that property is a commercial laundry business,” How says. There are no definite plans but How is eyeing options to retrofit the existing structure, and offers up a brewery as a potential future use.

How, a partner with Pacific Grove-based firm Fornine Investment Company, has owned the property since 2017 under the business name 508 Del Monte LLC, according to county property records. How had been eyeing the property since 2009 and expects his redevelopment project to take another five years.

How says whatever happens on the property will happen in concert with 500 Del Monte Ave., which he and his partners purchased in 2019; it currently houses Lopez Taqueria and Liquor. In January, the planning commission determined that building had no historic significance, overturning another Historic Preservation Commission decision.

Water availability is always a challenge for new developments on the Peninsula but How says the commercial laundry business comes with an abundance of water credits. Attorney Anthony Lombardo, representing the property owner, told City Council on June 1 that the property has the potential for more housing and commercial uses and could bring “significant improvements to the city of Monterey.”

The properties are at the edge of Monterey’s Pearl District, a six-block planning area bound east and west by Camino El Estero and Figueroa Street, and north and south by Del Monte Avenue and Webster Street. The district has seen some activity over the last month. Just a few blocks south, the Planning Commission on May 25 overturned a decision by the Historic Preservation Commission over the historic significance of three homes at 426, 430 and 432 Cortes St.

Lombardo represented the property owners in these cases as well. The owner is listed as Monterey PM Investments LLC. According to California Secretary of State records, the company is linked to Kevin Cesario and Kyle Chernetsky, the co-founders of C&C Real Estate, a real estate and property management firm. Development plans are unclear, and Cesario and Chernetsky did not respond to calls for comment.

Christopher Neely covers a mixed beat that includes the environment, water politics, and Monterey County's Board of Supervisors. He began at the Weekly in 2021 after five years on the City Hall beat in Austin, TX.

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