CORE AREA VISION PLAN

On March 28, 2017 the Mission Viejo City Council completed the process for developing the Core Area Vision Plan, designed to enhance the heart of Mission Viejo.  Based on extensive resident and property owner input, the vision provides a framework for open space; connecting to Oso Creek; creating a central gathering place; enhancing community aesthetics; creating a walkable village; and connecting our civic and retail core to more restaurants, shops and cultural arts activities. 

The Vision Plan is, simply, a long-term vision for the core area of the city. It serves as a framework for all future planning and development plans in this area. Ultimately, each specific project in this area will include opportunities for additional public input.

The Vision Plan is an iterative process that will take years to fully realize. The former Stein Mart parcel is just a first step toward implementation. There are many factors involved in realizing this Vision Plan and there is no definitive timetable for completion.

We will consider opportunities if and when they arise. At this point, however, we are concentrating on the former Stein Mart parcel. While additional parcels would be ideal, this parcel is a great opportunity and starting point.

VILLAGE CENTER RETAIL

If the City reaches an agreement with the current owner of the land, it will be some time before there are any visible changes to the property. The businesses currently operating at Village Center will not be negatively affected whatsoever by any future improvements.  The former Stein Mart building is currently empty. Stein Mart filed for bankruptcy and vacated the premises in 2020.

The Civic Core Plan as proposed includes an “Urban Alley” redevelopment which will enable most of the business to retain delivery either as it exist today or with some modification to truck size, frequency of delivery or route of delivery. This “Urban Alley” concept includes enhanced landscape and paving, shared access routes with and long term seating and eating establishments all sharing a common space. This concept, although new to Mission Viejo, is common in other Orange County communities where enhanced community spaces draw a more active and engaged population.

In the Vision Plan workshops and pop up events, support was expressed for a central gathering place, including the amphitheater concept. However, details of an amphitheater, including a sound analysis, would be subject to review and CEQA determination once details are developed.

TRAFFIC

The City has considered traffic activity and vehicle management. Currently, the Core Area is auto-oriented with poor pedestrian connections and there are no viable ADA routes throughout the retail center. The vision is to create a walkable village with connectivity between civic and retail parts of the Core Area, including a potential pedestrian overpass across Marguerite Parkway to connect City Hall and the Library to the Village Center, toward Oso Creek to tie in with the walkable, bikeable trails. The creation of the paseo will provide safe accessible points from Marguerite Parkway to the retail as well as to the Oso Creek Trail system.

 

Walkability also will encourage transit use in the Core Area, which is served by four different bus lines with a combined total of 22 transit stops. The intersections of Marguerite Parkway / La Paz Road and Marguerite Parkway / Oso Parkway offer opportunities to transfer between different bus lines.

PROPERTY ACQUISITION

If the City and the seller agree on a purchase price, the City will at that time evaluate its options for financing the purchase. There will not be any additional taxes or assessments used to fund the purchase.

When Stein Mart closed, the property owner contacted the city to determine if there was any interest in acquiring this parcel.

There are no plans today for the City to acquire additional properties in this area. If and when any additional properties do become available, the City may explore similar conversations with owners which, like tonight, will be publicly noticed.

As noted previously, the property owner of the former Stein Mart building approached the City regarding this opportunity. Any offer to purchase from the City will be based on due diligence and fair market value.

WATER TREATMENT PLANT

The smell is generated from the water treatment plant not the Oso Creek itself. The Santa Margarita Water District is currently under design to demolish the 40-year plus treatment plant and rebuild the plant using highly sophisticated and updated treatment processes. The design also includes undergrounding, or enclosing in buildings, certain aspects of the treatment process to reduce noise and smell. The district has new plants in the residential community of Rancho Mission Viejo with little to no smell. Similar noise- and smell-reducing measures will be implemented at the redesigned Mission Viejo facility. Project construction is set to start within the next 6-9 months and is anticipated to take 30-36 months to complete.

The Civic Core plan does not rely on an active stream with standing water but in fact actually anticipates a more seasonal flow of water. The low flow of the creek is primarily generated from urban runoff and the creek then swells in volume during rain events. Preliminary conversations have been conducted with Santa Margarita Water District to consider increased flow and water containment within the creek. While each of these ideas is a possibility, they are very long-term considerations that would not impact the initial efforts of implementing the Civic Core Plan.