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By Allison Jarrell
After more than two years of working with city staff and presenting at public hearings, the San Juan Hotel & Villas project was finally approved by the San Juan Capistrano City Council around 3 a.m. on Nov. 19.
The project, proposed by developer Urban Village, will be operated by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and include commercial, hotel and residential uses on a 3.17-acre site in the heart of the historic town center. Thirty single-family homes will be situated near the 136-room hotel, which will include a fitness center, lounge, restaurant, swimming pool and spa.
At the final hearing on Nov. 18, the vast majority of public speakers, including local business owners and chamber of commerce representatives, spoke in favor of the project and the economic boon it would bring to downtown San Juan.
Prior to the approval, Urban Village had filed a lawsuit against the city of San Juan Capistrano on Nov. 3, challenging the city’s previous decision that a general plan amendment was required to move the development forward. Joshua Host, principal of Urban Village, said after years of work, nine public hearings and Planning Commission approval in May, city staff said the residential element of his project did not align with the city’s general plan.
On Tuesday night, city staff stood by their previous recommendation that the hotel project does not fit within the city’s guidelines for development; however, it was up to council members to make the final decision of consistency. Ultimately, a 3-2 council vote determined that the project does align with the city’s plans.
At a recent Coffee Chat meeting at the Mission Grill, Josh Host said the demolition of the property will occur shortly after the finalization of the project’s construction loan. The hotel will take 12 months to build, with the villas completed in multiple phases. Host anticipates a June 2016 opening if all goes as planned.