"Looks like prison."
"Looks like a fortress."
"I don't hate it."
"Looks like an old warehouse."
"Reminds me of a mausoleum."
This was the feedback of three focus groups Wednesday night who looked at three different architectural styles proposed as a replacement for that fronts the San Diego Gas & Electric substation on Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano.
The utility company is scheduled to submit to the California Public Utilities Commission its plans to between San Clemente and San Juan later this month.
Previously, city staff in San Juan had communicated reservations about replacing the historic structure with something out of character with the rest of the downtown area. .
However, SDG&E, as a state-governed utility, does not need local permision to move forward with its plans, which could begin construction next year and see completion by June 2017.
In response to concerns, SDG&E came up with designs, or "charrettes," to take the new substation in three possible architectural themes.
The first SDG&E officials called "neoclassic," which is designed to be a take-off of the existing building.
The second was "California mission," which is supposed to mimic the older, mission-style buildings in town, not the least of which is .
The third design was a variation on the California mission theme, called modern mission.
The focus groups and other invited guests were mostly underwhelmed. They asked for more landscaping, mission tile and the possibility of murals.
The public will have a chance to view the renderings for themselves at an open house SDG&E will host from 3-7 p.m. April 25 at the , 32120 San Juan Creek Road.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Before becoming editor of San Juan Capistrano Patch, Penny Arévalo served on a focus group for San Diego Gas & Electric and saw early plans to upgrade the local substation and power poles in the area. For her service, she received $75.