By Allison Jarrell

If a developer’s plans go accordingly, San Juan Capistrano could be getting a downtown hotel across from the mission—a site that was previously approved for the Plaza Banderas project. Rivendell Land Company, owned by Bill Griffith, has purchased the plot of land on the corner of El Camino Real and Ortega Highway and is closing escrow.

Dan Friess, who is representing Rivendell as a consultant, said the purchase of the property includes an existing full development entitlement from 2011—the Plaza Banderas project, which includes approvals for a 124-room hotel and two commercial buildings.

At the San Juan Capistrano City Council’s March 17 meeting, construction of a waterline providing sufficient fire flow for the hotel project was approved unanimously. Rivendell Land Company will cover the cost of the approved pipeline construction, which was bid at $640,000. During public comment on the item, Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commissioner Steve Behmerwohld noted that such construction was found to be too costly for the site’s previous developers. City staff said constructing a pipeline across the freeway is much cheaper than the previous pursuit of a line down El Horno—which was estimated to cost $1.8 million.

Friess said Rivendell has not yet selected an operator for a hotel, and the company is still working on resolving engineering issues. Following escrow, Friess told the council that plans will begin moving ahead for the approved project, which still has to go through a construction documentation phase that will likely take several months.

“The bottom line is, we’re moving forward,” Friess said in a later interview. “We’re very interested in reviving this project for the community.”

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comments (11)

  • Love this! The perfect place for the Hotel

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    And the closed lot is now open. It is the Rivendell-Mission lot and Mission will manage until hotel construction starts. Great to have a developer who is already doing great things like this!

  • Gotta love it! Big money donor to the Mission using the organization as his mouth piece. People in this town really aren’t that stupid you know. It’s as transparent as the water in that pond of yours and getting dirtier by the minute.

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    He is not a donor. But now with the lot he is in a round about way I suppose. You should get facts correct before you write inaccurate info and make things sound so dire. I am no one’s mouth piece btw except my employers’.

    Also- What’s wrong with actually building an approved project that we’ve reviewed for years at great public expense and that former councils approved?

    I work for the church and a board that did not want a strip mall, wanted parking, and wanted a hotel as publicly processed and we supported back then- see the public record. Many people wanted the master plan followed and especially those directly in the shadow if the generic former strip center. No dirty water or pond here.

    As I say, it’s easy to make mean inaccurate statements publicly against people – and I have to take your heat if I want to save the Mission from a significant change to the master plan. So, I will. I am glad no strip mall. Mr. Griffith is a resident for many years and a property owner. If he can buy the property and give us a hotel as planned- why the negativity? Have a great night. I hope you will come to see why I cared and why the people I work for do too.

    • Dito…great response . I’m a new tenent of Mr Griffith, as I had to move out of Plaza del O after 45 years as a tenet because of the proposed (Gotham City Development) Hotel and condos approved by the last City counsel. I have never been treated so respectfully and welcomed as a new tenet by Mr Griffith. I can asure you whatever Mr. Griffith builds, it will be with the love and respect of our quaint City.

  • Exciting news! The site next to the Mission is the perfect location for our downtown hotel. With the new freeway interchange, it’s even more important to bring historic charm at the entrance of the city; a strip mall definitely was not the answer. I hope Rivendell can buffer the effect of the massive interchange project. Also, having the hotel on this site keeps the traffic out of the middle of downtown, which is hugely congested already. Ignore the negative comments, Mechelle … anyone who truly has the City’s best interest at heart will be thrilled about the hotel’s new location.

  • Sue one approved hotel project so you can start your own. Build a coalition to oppose another project so you can buy the land at a discount when the owners give up. Good thing Mr Griffith has the new city council in his back pocket. Nothing like a 5 hour meeting at his house with Pam Patterson to work out any issues.

    • Yes and more and more people are seeing it this way. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” Lord Acton. It’s just so sad to see it in San Juan where the good people that live here are always promised their voices will be heard when actually it’s only a few, well connected voices that matter.

      • I’ve been a business owner in SJC for over 20 years. I’ve operated businesses on both sides of the Freeway. I am not a tenant of any of Mr.Griffith’s projects. But I know Bill Griffith and the Rivendell land company has continued to time and time again make a positive impact on our community. Bill, being a long time resident has chosen not only to invest but continues to reinvest in our city. While so many others have left or chosen to spend their development dollars elsewhere. We can’t afford to continue to lose businesses. The staggering amount of growing vacancies should be a wake up call to the needs of our community. We need a company like his to help our city stay on track toward the goals of a revitalized downtown. We all need to be grateful for every dollar being kept in our community. Think not only of the long term benefits but also the much needed tax dollars and immediate financial impact a new development like this can bring our local businesses. Thank you Bill for investing in San Juan Capistrano and keeping the money in our town.

      • Well, that’s interesting, PaulB, as Griffith’s recent focus has seemed to be much more along the lines of blocking development dollars and tax revenue for SJC. I’m also an SJC business owner, and it appears very clear that the only difference now is that Griffith stands to profit and can call this HIS development. As Richard stated above: Sue one approved hotel project so he can start his own. Help crush another project to leverage buying the land. These are the order of events. It really can’t be more obvious.

      • Again I must state some facts about the proposed downtown Hotels.

        I was a tenet in Birtcher Plaza/ Plaza Del O for 45 years. I have seen this beautiful property falling apart ever since the new owner, Mr. Oedekerk bought it. He originally bought the property for his production company. We as tenets were given notice that he could give a notice to vacate from 3-6 months upon the renewal of our leases.

        Then entered Urban Village with a proposed Hotel and Villa project.more degeneration of the property occured. Tenets left .

        Most citizens objected to the Hotel because of the residential Villas. This project was way too big for the acreage.

        Litigation,referendum etc. then pursued.

        Now a pro active Mr.. Griffith buys the formally approved Old Walnut Grove, Mission Inn site off the freeway to develop the Pre Approved Hotel plan (7 years in the making)and you all acting like this is for his profit? You were complaining about a Trader Joe’s that the former owner wanted there. Let’s move ahead with this and stop whining.

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