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Plans for Camino Real Project Draw Protest from Historical Society

Olen Properties, the Newport Beach developer that built big swaths of the business park at calles Amanecer and Negocio, plans a mixed-use development downtown.

The big Newport Beach developer Olen Properties is shopping around plans for a 27,000-square-foot retail/restaurant/residential building on El Camino Real across from the Avenida Del Mar intersection.

Olen Senior Vice President Dale Lyon said the ground floor of the new building will have 7,700 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The second and third floors will have 16 1,200-square-foot apartments. The third story will be set back from the Camino Real side, and the building will also have two stories of frontage up the slope on the parallel Avenida de la Estrella, Lyon said.

Olen built hundreds of thousands of square feet of office, warehouse and light industrial space in the business center at Calle Amanecer and Negocio in San Clemente. The company, run by Russian immigrant billionaire Igor Olenicoff, has built developments throughout California and the U.S.

"We're new to downtown, but we're not new to San Clemente," he said.

Plans to build next to the landmark historic City Hall have raised some hackles among history buffs, however.

The San Clemente Historical] Society "is concerned that the longstanding iconic Spanish colonial revival structure at 101 S. El Camino Real could be rendered less historically significant by a proposed relatively massive development next doorr," states a release from the society.

Among the worries is that the building as proposed could dwarf the old City Hall.

"One of the most important historic resources of the founder's era, the 29-foot-tall landmark has always stood a few feet taller than buildings to its left and right, emphasizing its throne-like historical prominence," the release states.

"At 220 feet long and 44 feet or three stories high, the new development could potentially tower over the historic City Hall and other smaller historic buildings across the street," the release continues.

The Historical Society will weigh in when Olen begins to move through the approval process. The project is scheduled for a hearing before the design review subcommittee in February.

Sam La Sala January 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Placing a reproduction Spanish Colonial monolith in such close proximity to one of San Clemente's most iconic and seminal structures, the Easley building, would be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Tom Barnes January 28, 2012 at 07:42 PM
On the surface this sounds like a bad idea but let's see a 3-D model of this behemoth before rendering a final judgement. If the developer is unable or unwilling to provide one like the LAB failed to do for his Playa del Norte project then lets Nix the whole idea. Why does every developer think that he has to build three stories, two story buildings should be enough.
Adam Townsend January 28, 2012 at 08:22 PM
There are updated renderings available; I spoke the project manager at Olen after-hours Friday, and he said he'd send me the newest 3D renderings on Monday morning. I will be sure to publish the image then.
Georgette Korsen January 28, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Thank-you, Sam. Our community really needs to keep a close eye on this one. It has the potential to change forever what we value most...the heart of the downtown. I think residents welcome development when it respects our small town village character and historic resources. When residents were polled for the city by Vision San Clemente, 86% stated they wanted our small town village character preserved. Yet..here we are again, being challenged with a project that is 3 stories, 42 ft high, 220 wide that would overwhelm the now majestic historic Easley Bldg as well as our one story founder's office across the street which would look comical and insignificant in comparison. The developers latest renderings for this project use perspective, angles and incomplete images to create the illusion that it is considerably smaller than it is. When residents make up their mind, I'm hoping they insist on viewing a straight on shot, showing all buildings adjacent, so that the enormity of this project is not obscurred and they will fully understand what it is we will be getting.
ms.sc. January 31, 2012 at 04:18 PM
What about parking space? Won't the project effect Del Mars already somewhat limited parking space already? And added residential doesn't sound well thought out either.
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 05:04 PM
The property has a large lot now, maybe they will utilize it. There are apartments all over downtown. Up and down Del mar intertwined with the shops, above stores on surrounding streets. Residential in the area already exists and has forever.
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 05:04 PM
@ Adam have you personally asked about a 3D model?
ms.sc. January 31, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I understand that Lindsey, however the added residential proposal sounds challenging to the historic charm of San Clemente. Yes, I do know people live in downtown historic San Clemente, lucky for them!! This project deserves the approval from not only the San Clemente Historical Society, but it's local residents as well. Everyone's voice matters.
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Not once have I ever inferred that the local voices have no clout. I encourage community involvement wholeheartedly. How do you feel the project is challenging to the historic charm and how do you suggest the developer change the project to better embrace the historic charm?
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Personally I do not think the project needs to be three stories. I think two stories would better suit San Clemente. If the project was scaled down to two stories and it accounted for it's parking impact, I'd stand behind it.
ms.sc. January 31, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Lindsey, my concerns are the future residential and/or parking for current and potential downtown residents. Also where are people to park when creating revenue in this establishment? It boasts many facilities in limited space. Has anyone considered the historic structures stabilities surrounding the new development? I am not against progress and new development, but this proposal in the "heart of Ole Hansons dream" seems to be without Spanish Village by-the-sea charm. I am against it.
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 07:57 PM
And again Ms Sc what would you suggest the developer do to better acquaint his project? If you are open to development and progress how could this project fit your idea of appropriate? Personally I think it should only be two stories opposed to three. And I think the developer should account for his own parking. The only problem with parking is it's already limited and unless a structure is built we are in trouble. I wish the city could buy that lot and turn it into a parking structure. I think the locale is PERFECT for paid downtown parking.
ms.sc. January 31, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Lindsey, I like what previous poster Tom Barnes says. I feel a town hall meeting with the public and the potential developers would answer most everyones doubts or concerns. A 3-D model, along with proposed parking and income revenue would help to ease some concerns. Also, I would want to know how the proposed construction will effect the stability of our Historic Landmark, the land vibrations from the constructions of this proposed site has to have some effect on the existing landmark. Vibrations in the ground will always have an effect on a structure, especially when you are building right next to it.
Lindsey Hanson January 31, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I'd love to hear all of those answers too.
Fred Segal December 04, 2012 at 08:43 AM
I agree with ms.sc. regarding the concerns over the potential vibrations produced by the constructions. Will there be any significant impacts onto the historical landmarks which have been around for a long time, making them more prone to physical damage as they have deteriorated over time and become brittle? As for the entire development project, I don't quite see the huge difference it would make and cause drastic change to the historical status of the area. The retail and residential buildings will be built alongside and an addition to the historical buildings/landmarks, and not in replacement of them. They will definitely complement each other and help to bring their different target audiences together.

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