Asked about the giant pit across the street from her handmade loungewear store, Ruffle Me To Sleep, near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Dolores Street in Carmel, owner Dee Borsella jokes, “You mean the community swimming pool?” If it were a pool it would be massive, stretching across at least half of a long city block. She’s anxious to see the “The Pit,” as neighbors call it, finally developed.
The Pit has been sitting empty for nearly three years – save for some concrete walls and a lot of rebar – after the two buildings at the site were demolished to make way for a new multi-use development that sputtered then came to a halt due to lack of financing. Last March the two parcels were sold to Esperanza Carmel Residential, LLC for $9 million and plans are in the works for a whole new development called Ulrika Plaza, a 42,000-square-foot retail and residential building.
There are two other limited liability corporations with similar names, Esperanza Carmel and Esperanza Carmel Commercial, and the three companies represent purchases of about 14 Carmel parcels for a combined $82.8 million since 2015, according to Monterey County Assessor-Recorder records. All three are owned by Patrice Pastor, who hails from a family in Monaco reportedly worth billions. He’s chairman of the family company founded by his great-grandfather, J.B. Pastor & Fil, and is head of Pastor Real Estate, based in London.
Pastor’s family visited Carmel when he was a child, according to Christopher Mitchell, a Pastor Real Estate representative. The charm of the village left an indelible impression on the young Pastor. Mitchell says by email that Pastor “knew that he would one day come to live here.” After buying a vacation home on Scenic Road for $9 million in 2015, according to county records, “the situation organically evolved” into a real estate company. Pastor visits Carmel three to four times a year, Mitchell says.
Pastor purchased two neighboring homes in 2016 and 2018 and is planning a new-build home with a pool. Of all the commercial buildings his companies have purchased, the largest to date was L’Auberge Carmel for $13.9 million in January 2020. There are no plans to change commercial properties, save two, says Mitchell: Ulrika Plaza and the J.B. Pastor Project, a 30,000-square-foot mixed-use, Mediterranean-style building, located on Dolores on the other side of Ocean Avenue, behind the 7th & Dolores restaurant. Completion could be by the end of 2023.
In November, Pastor and Mitchell hosted an outdoor meeting to show plans to residents. “This is a plus they did this,” says Fred Bologna, president of the Carmel Residents Association. “They did consider carefully how they would design the two structures so they would blend in.”
“Our vision is to compliment the retailing experience in Carmel, for both the local residents and the town’s tourism sector,” Mitchell says. They’re planning a coffee shop, boutique retail stores but no art galleries due to the large number already downtown.