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Senior Housing Proposed at Site of Armstrong Growers

The 34-acre project would include independent living, congregate care and skilled nursing.

Armstrong Growers in San Juan Capistrano. Patch file photo.
Armstrong Growers in San Juan Capistrano. Patch file photo.

A developer will ask the San Juan Capistrano City Council Tuesday for permission to convert what’s now Armstrong Growers into a sprawling senior community.

The proposal calls for an independent living component with 415 semi-detached units, congregate care with common dining and recreation areas and skilled nursing on 34 acres along Del Obispo Street, according to a city staff report. Residents would be age-restrict to 60 years old and older.

Currently, the land --which includes the retail outlet and the farmland with greenhouses -- is zoned for “agri-business,” so a switch to senior housing in what’s called “public/institutional” zoning will require a vote of the City Council before detailed plans go to the Planning Commission.

In a letter to the council, Troy Bourne of Menlo Park-based Spieker Senior Development Partners says using the land for agriculture is “no longer a reasonable use” given how the land around it has been developed. He also noted the adjacent Vermeulen shopping center could be made “more vibrant” with “some restorations and enhancement” if some of the building restrictions associated with the current zoning are lifted.

The developer was pursuing a similar project at Rancho Capistrano but has since abandoned that effort.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto in San Juan Capistrano. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The "retail outlet" mentioned above is referring to Armstrong's, not the entire Vermeulen shopping center. While the developer isn't proposing anything for the shopping center, he does indicate in a letter to the city it would benefit from rezoning as well so it can be made more vibrant. Bourne also asked that you all know that no real agriculture is done on the property because plants are grown in pots. 

Kelley August 19, 2013 at 05:06 PM
This is a joke, right?!!!?
GreenInOC August 19, 2013 at 08:25 PM
@Kelley, I hope so!
DVC August 19, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Very bad idea---a crazy amount of added traffic trying to get into the downtown area-----with this addition of traffic--the lines from the Ghost Train cpould back up all the way to the PCH!.....if the City Council approves the rezoning to help out the developer, it would show the any amount of common sense has been permanently lost
Penny Arévalo (Editor) August 19, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Actually, senior housing generates comparatively little traffic than other intense uses. And, not a joke.
Clint Worthington August 19, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Penny, your statement is not entirely accurate. Adding the traffic of 415 residents that would be living there, in addition to the support personnel of cooks, gardeners, maintenance, housekeeping, delivery of food and supplies everyday for 415 people and of course the visiting relatives will generate daily trips on Del Obispo and Alipaz of upwards of over 1,000 trips. Next to this project already are three public schools that are literally back to back to each other that generate a tremendous amount of traffic each morning and afternoon bringing traffic to a standstill. In addition to the traffic on Del Obispo from Capo Valley Christian School. I know you have seen Penny when traffic on Del Obispo is backed up the the freeway and backed up the other side on Del Obispo sometimes as far west as Del Avion. Theses streets were designed for a lower amount of traffic as this area was largely zoned agriculture when they were built over forty years ago. These streets cannot support more traffic as they were simply not designed for it. Penny, I am positive that Troy Bourne is going to present that traffic can be mitigated and will be even more free flowing if this project is built. If that is the case, then mitigate the traffic problem now. Why wait? The answer is simply the traffic problem cannot be mitigated. In full discourse, yes this project is over my backyard fence.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) August 19, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I compared it to other intense projects. As a rule of thumb in the traffic engineering world, fewer trips (especially at peak hours) are attributed to senior housing than regular housing. That is all.
Clint Worthington August 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM
As to the Editors Note that Mr. Bourne stated that it is not really agriculture because the plants are grown in pots. I did not know there was a requirement on how plants must be grown in order for it to be agriculture.
Kelley August 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Is Armstrong Nursery and it's land up for sale? Why would they even think about leaving after being in business there for so long? All those long term employees would be out of a job.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) August 20, 2013 at 01:45 PM
According to the staff report, Armstrong doesn't own the land. They lease.
Nom de Plume August 20, 2013 at 02:27 PM
This is a really bad idea. And, by the way, Armstrong's plant-growing area and greenhouses (some 30+ acres) - just down the street from the existing Del Obispo Terrace assisted living facility - is clearly agricultural - and NOT all in "pots." We must fight to keep this land free of development! Let the Menlo Park hustler make his $millions in other part of Orange County where it would be more appropriate for such a project.
Donna Fleming August 20, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Armstrong Nursery is a plus for our community. I would hate to see it turned into a senior development or any development. My guess is they are not profitable. Just a guess based on number of customers on any given day. Probably the economy.
Kelley August 20, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Well, I think it's AWFUL and if the City agrees to this, it just may be time to throw in the towel on all the BS in this City and move. We have WAY too many people as it is, and Armstrong is an asset to our community! How dare they even think about closing it down to make room for yet another senior facility!
Donna Fleming August 21, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Agreed Kelley. This may be the last straw. It is probably all about money. We don't need another senior development here. Soon we will begin to look like Laguna Woods. Over priced water, and power. Problems in the school district. Poor city management. So many problems facing our small town. I like it the way it is.

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