By Brian Park
The San Juan Capistrano Friends of the Library will finally be able to break ground on their new bookstore after the City Council on Tuesday approved a $60,000 loan to the nonprofit volunteer group.
The money will come from the city’s general fund reserve and will go toward moving the current bookstore, located in the rear of the library, to a more visible area in the Bland Garden, fronting El Camino Real. The Friends of the Library will have to pay back the loan within five years.
Construction of the bookstore, which was designed by San Juan Capistrano Planning Commissioner and architect Roy Nunn, calls for a new roof, glass door, five windows and a copper awning with signage over the entrance. In addition to approval of the loan, which passed without discussion, the council also awarded Riverside-based Avi-con Inc. with a $327,000 contract for the construction.
The Friends had raised $287,000 for the project over eight years, according to President Mary DeMers. However, construction bids for the project were higher than projected, with Avi-con’s being the lowest.
In a letter to the council, DeMers said if no benefactors are found, the Friends expect to pay back the loan using sales from the new bookstore and through fundraising. DeMers also corrected a city staff report that stated annual sales from the bookstore to be $50,000. DeMers wrote that the store had actually made $83,023.98 between 2009 and 2013, with steadily declining sales in the past four.
The Friends project improved visibility for the bookstore will lead to increased sales over the next five years, totaling $220,000.
After the meeting, DeMers said the Friends have an aggressive but unlikely plan to open the new bookstore for their 30th anniversary in December. Joe Mankawich, an associate engineer with the city, said construction will break ground in early September. Mankawich added that the city and the Friends will look to cut some costs, following a meeting with the contractor next week.
“This shows a lot of community support. We just can’t believe the outpouring of support from this community,” DeMers said. “That’s one of the wonderful things about San Juan Capistrano.”