The Capistrano Collection, the shopping center on Ortega Highway next to the , is headed for a facelift.
Although not all the details have been ironed out – the project will go the city’s Design Review Committee for a third look-see – the Planning Commission on Tuesday gave a general nod to the project, which will see a redesign in the façade, the addition of new, leasable space on the first floor and new storefront windows in the existing arches.
“It pains me to see the high-vacancy factor,” said Commissioner Sheldon Cohen. “I’ve seen that center suffer for years and years.”
Keith Ray, one of the center’s owners from Fortus Property Group, acknowledged the center has had problems attracting and keeping tenants, especially because the center offers little in the way of storefront visibility.
“We’d love to remodel the building, improve it, take it to the next level, clean it up,” Ray said, adding that the new look is designed to blend in with the neighboring historic Forster Mansion.
Maryanne Charis, one of two owners of the Forster Mansion, told the Planning Commission that when she first heard of plans for next-door remodel, she hated the idea. But after spending time with Ray and discussing his plans, she now supports the re-do.
“I think the Forster Mansion is one of the jewels of San Juan Capistrano,” Charis said. “We have clients coming from all over the world who spend 1-2 hours with us. I feel confident that what’s been said will happen, and if not, you’ll see me again.”
The commission voted unanimously to send the project to the Design Review Committee one last time, and then have it return to the Planning Commission for a final sign-off.
“I think this is a huge improvement and will do nothing but enhance that retail center,” Commissioner Ginny Kerr said