San Juan Capistrano is poised to sell a key downtown piece of land occupied by Camino Real Playhouse to a developer who has proposed a 250-seat performing arts center, shops, restaurants and underground parking for 240 cars.
On a 3-2 vote, the City Council selected Frontier Real Estate Investment as the party it wants to deal with as it disposes of the city-owned playhouse building and an adjacent 68-space parking lot as part of the state’s dissolution of community redevelopment agencies.
The audience at the Tuesday, May 16 City Council meeting erupted into applause at the announcement of the council’s selection. It came after a closed-door session of the council, deliberating which of four proposals for the land to accept.
One of the proposals was for an office building. Two other proposals called for lower-scale venues for special events and theater, retaining the outdoor parking lot and restriping it to increase its capacity by 20 or more spaces, or more in valet configuration.
Frontier’s proposal was the largest-scale proposal but also the only one that offered a full-scale performing arts venue – up to 350 seats if a balcony is included, and a potential way to preserve Camino Real Playhouse as a cultural institution after more than 25 years in San Juan.
Council members did not explain their choice. Closed-session real estate discussions are by law confidential. The vote was Councilmen Derek Reeve, Sergio Farias and Brian Maryott in favor of Frontier’s proposal, Mayor Kerry Ferguson and Councilwoman Pam Patterson against.
Prior to the 3 p.m. closed session of the council, local residents John Campbell and Dave Davidson addressed the council, both urging selection of Frontier’s proposal. Campbell said that parking is the biggest challenge downtown and Frontier’s was the proposal to best address that need. He noted that the Historic Town Center Master Plan calls for a parking structure on this site – a feature that none of the other three…