Design Review Sub-Committee Discusses Proposed Mixed-Use Development on Camino Real

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The featured image: Pictured is a rendering of the new mixed-use development named Calvada that is proposed near the El Camino Real exit off Highway 5. Photo: Courtesy of the City of San Clemente

By C. Jayden Smith

As contentious as development projects along San Clemente’s main thoroughfare are for residents, demands for mixed-use buildings continue to be on the agenda of city committees.

The Design Review Subcommittee on Wednesday, June 29 reviewed a development project named Calvadalocated near the El Camino Real exit off Highway 5 at 1430 S. El Camino Real, on the site of a gas station that has been closed and vacant since the 1990s.

Project developer Hannibal Petrossi, owner of Newport Beach-based Petrossi and Associates, is looking to build 10 apartments totaling 16,864 square feet with 25 matching parking spaces, and 6,681 square feet of retail and office space. with 23 parking spaces. stalls.

If approved, the development would join two neighboring properties that have recently received upgrades, including the Shoreline Dental project at 1409 S. El Camino Real and the Valencia commercial project at 1502 S. El Camino Real.

“This gateway has been a redevelopment priority for the city,” the city said in its agenda report to the subcommittee.

The rendered design adheres to the requisite Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, which the report notes as particularly prominent due to its proximity to the highway. City staff included nine recommendations for the plan, with references to the Master Plan and Urban Design Standards.

Listed “opportunities for improvement” include the addition of a significant public art or architectural feature to be located at the corner of El Camino Real and W. Avenida Valencia, patios on the ground floor and the Ornamentation at ground level of the main entrance with a visually interesting element such as tile or art.

Staff recommended treating the different parts of the building as independent segments and repositioning the “obstructing elements” that are part of the front elevation, simplifying the rear elevation, opening up the central courtyard to the sky, and remove office balconies.

“Limit repeated patterns that create a ‘mirrored’ design,” reads one recommendation. “The glazing, in particular, creates a very repetitive pattern on the front and back facades. Treat each “segment” individually. »

Economic Development Director Jonathan Lightfoot presented the recommendations and his thoughts on the design to planning commissioners Steven Camp and Barton Crandell, members of the subcommittee, on Wednesday. Petrossi and his team of associates, including Tim Brown, also attended the meeting.

Regarding the front elevation, Lightfoot divided the design into three sections, to emphasize the city’s desire to make each section attractive as independent of the others. He pointed out some notches and some roofing elements that didn’t make sense or felt out of place and could be redesigned.

The design also featured elements along the facade, such as two sets of three consecutive windows at either end of the entrance, which earned the recommendation to limit repeating patterns.

“We’re still going to have some balance, but (we) are thinking of ways to split it up so that if you were to split the project in two, it wouldn’t be exactly the same thing,” Lightfoot said. “So, (we) are thinking of ways to compensate. Often the Spanish Colonial (design) will have some imbalance.

Petrossi was responsive to the recommendation to change the mirrored front aspect and other parts of the front and rear elevations.

The group also talked about adding an accessible outdoor space on the ground floor on the El Camino Real side, as the site is part of the city’s pedestrian zone and such a space would contribute to the area. .

Lightfoot suggested adding patio seating, which could be accomplished by replacing the front windows with an archway so as not to impede the public right-of-way. Building plans included three restaurants with 40 seats planned, providing space to fit the maximum of 16 outdoor seats allowed by the city without providing parking.

Petrossi said he would have to remove the landscaping originally planned to make room for potential seating, but he seemed comfortable with the idea of ​​making changes to accommodate it.

“It’s a good thing, but it’s not a mandatory thing required to become a Spanish Colonial,” Crandell said of outdoor dining. “But it encourages pedestrian use in the area and restaurants with seem to do better than restaurants without.”

The rear elevation was discussed at length from the start of Lightfoot’s presentation, as he placed red Xs on many elements of the design.

Petrossi disagreed that the back was too busy. He explained that the decorative features on the side had to add to an otherwise flat, bare wall, and that the large arches in the parking lot that opened to the back alley had to provide ventilation.

The recommendation was to reduce the number or size of openings, and Lightfoot also included a photo of the parking space at the nearby Ten10 Santiago development, which had narrower openings.

“I think there’s going to be a discussion about the overall mass, scale, and balance of the architecture,” Camp said.

He added that he wanted to see Petrossi’s team come back with a “greatly simplified” design, but the meeting would continue.

One of the points of discussion was to improve compliance with the transition aisle height limit, as the rear elevation second level balcony railings exceeded the height limit by 28 feet.

However, since the building would include a housing unit marked as “affordable”, state regulations would allow the company to not comply with the height limit under the zoning code standard.

The balconies, which Petrossi said would be much larger than others throughout the city, are part of design efforts to avoid an image within city guidelines that was not to be replicated. Thus, Petrossi included metal railings, quatrefoils, gray pipes and rectangular and round balconies.

Lightfoot told commissioners the city didn’t have a ‘sacred’ standard the development couldn’t ignore, like the transition height limit, but Camp and Crandell were against keeping the guardrails as they were presented. originally.

Commissioners also talked about “softening” the major elements of the elevation, avoiding symmetry and creating balance. Camp referred to the multiple examples that Lightfoot had shown as all having a hierarchy, with strong and subsidiary elements.

“We don’t see that in this project, and that’s a super important part of doing good Spanish Colonial architecture,” Camp said. “How do you accomplish that? You have to do it with the masses. You have to do it with the openings.

He added that the design should be less ornamental and instead more simple and elegant, while simultaneously trying to cut costs. Once the DRSC finds common ground with the applicants, the Planning Commission’s design reviews go smoothly, Camp said.

The next step will include more communication between Petrossi’s team and city staff, and then between Lightfoot and the DRSC, both virtually and in meetings, to fine-tune the design to eventually be ready for discussion of the Planning Commission.

“We’re very excited about the project,” Camp said. “(We are) happy to see that something is happening.”

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.

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