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Three-story, 18-unit mixed-use development gets Planning Commission OK
By Andrea Papagianis
The first mixed-use development since Dana Point implemented its Town Center Plan got a unanimous OK from the Planning Commission Monday night.
Combining residential, retail and restaurant space, John Chen, the project’s principal developer, will take a vacant lot at Del Prado Avenue and Violet Lantern up a notch.
Plans for the lot include a three-level structure, with first-floor restaurant and retail spaces and two floors of residential units above. The building will feature a total of 18 units and have three levels of enclosed parking for all uses.
“We were early supporters of the Town Center project,” Chen told the Commission and more than 100 people gathered Monday night. “We endured a difficult economic environment, but presently have a (financial) window of opportunity to take advantage of.”
A handful of residents were concerned about noise, height, parking and traffic, but all expressed a desire to see the project go through. Chen said his firm, which has owned the land since 2006, is willing to work with residents to mitigate their concerns.
Commissioners Norm Denton and Liz Claus raised questions about restaurant noise impacting nearby residents, pointing to past issues with Purple Feet Wines, now Luxe Restaurant, housed in a mixed-use building on an adjacent corner.
City Attorney Patrick Munoz said the City Council addressed mixed-use noise issues with a blanket approach in the Town Center Plan. He added the city hopes residents go into downtown knowing mix-use developments are being encouraged, and understand city-like noise can come with such uses.
All members of the five-member body expressed excitement about the project, and the developer’s inclination to soften the building’s look. Commissioners also praised the developer’s dedication to the project and pointed to the mixed-use structure being a “great way” to launch the $19 million Town Center redevelopment.
“It has been a longtime coming,” said Chairman Gary Newkirk. “It is great we have an applicant here with staying power. This is a project that will serve well as a blue print example for other developments to come.”
Commissioners approved the project with a condition the developer soften the building’s east facade with landscaping, art or signage.
In anticipation of approval, the developer submitted a grading permit application prior to the meeting, said Ursula Luna-Reynosa, the city’s community development director. With the Commission’s OK the application was approved shortly thereafter, she said, meaning the developer’s excavation of the site could begin soon, though no official timeline has been set.