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This rendering, courtesy of the project developer Urban Village, shows the latest version of the San Juan Hotel & Villas.
This rendering, courtesy of the project developer Urban Village, shows the latest version of the San Juan Hotel & Villas.

By Allison Jarrell

A group of San Juan Capistrano citizens opposed to the recently-approved San Juan Hotel and Villas is set to legally challenge the project next week, according to the group’s legal representation.

Referred to as “Save Our Historic Town Center,” the group plans to file a petition challenging the development’s recent San Juan Capistrano City Council approval in Orange County Superior Court on Monday, Dec. 8, according to attorney Heather Minner of the San Francisco-based law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger.

On Friday, Minner sent a letter addressed to the council and Joshua Host, principal of developer Urban Village, announcing the impending suit. Minner confirmed to The Dispatch Friday afternoon that she’ll be representing the “Save Our Historic Town Center” group, which is requesting the Superior Court review and reverse the City Council’s decision to approve the hotel and villas project.

The group challenging the project contends the council’s recent approvals violate state planning and zoning law, the Subdivision Map Act and the city’s municipal code, claiming the project is “inconsistent with the City of San Juan Capistrano General Plan.”

The letter continues that the city should consider the suit prior to permitting any project work or issuing further permits or approvals.

After years of working with the city, the Urban Village project was finally approved by the City Council around 3 a.m. on Nov. 19, following about five hours of presentations, public comment and debate.

The development 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 boutique hotel, which will include a fitness center, lounge, restaurant, swimming pool and spa.

At a November Coffee Chat meeting at the Mission Grill, Host said the hotel will take 12 months to build, with the villas completed in multiple phases. He anticipates a June 2016 opening if all goes as planned.

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comments (2)

  • Kimpton is such an awesome brand and the number one boutique hotel chain in the country. They are a popular brand that always customs their hotels to fabric of the town and communities that they are in. The Palm Springs City Council just offered a $50 million dollar incentive package just to get a Kimpton Hotel in Palm Springs. As the current property owner it’s really exciting to know that even though I have to leave a property I love, the town, residents and local business owners will have such a classy and homey hotel in Downtown.

    This will be SJC’s 6th Hotel spanning back all the way to the late 1800s, returning San Juan to its historical routes of once again having a hotel in the downtown and being a true tourist destination.

    Everyone expected such a challenge as there are still local developers actively pursuing acquisition of the property to develop large condo complexes on the site rather than a hotel. Having a newly created “group” filing to challenge the project is a perfect way for them to remain in hiding.

    I look greatly forward for all of the presently challenged and struggling businesses in our town that will be able to stabilize and flourish once we have a prestigious Kimpton boutique hotel in San Juan!

  • I am a resident of San Juan, just a resident. I am also a REALTOR but have no relationship to the project other than supporting both the hotel and housing because it makes perfect sense. The past few years we have seen small business come and go in historic downtown. These businesses need people. My husband and I try to buy, eat and be entertained locally and so do many San Juan residents. But we are not enough to keep these businesses here and draw new small businesses to downtown.

    A hotel designed just for our town, “We customize our hotels — from design to menus — to reflect the destinations we call home” taken from the Kimpton website is just what our small businesses need. This type of hotel alone will encourage new businesses to consider San Juan.

    The small number of housing units will compliment downtown and in fact balance out the current existing housing to the north and west of Camino Capistrano Street. The residents will be folks that want to live in a historic downtown to take advantage of the train; shops; Mission; theaters and restaurants – just like the current downtown residents do.

    Doesn’t this just make sense? I believe that is what the council members intended when they developed the Historic Downtown specific plan – the city manager referenced this plan as a “visionary document” several times at the meeting and the approval of Urban Village was merely finishing what they started with that vision.

    What doesn’t make sense to me is that any resident of San Juan would want to see the city involved in another costly lawsuit.

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