By Fred Swegles
2019 could be a savory year for local fans of Chick-fil-A and for moviegoers who like state-of-the-art, full-service cinemas that can serve dinner and drinks at your seat.
San Clemente is also set to become home to an ocean-view Marriott Autograph Collection hotel with restaurant and conference facilities.
At its final meeting of 2018, the City Council approved plans for a 115-seat Chick-fil-A restaurant with a drive-thru, indoor playground and 16-seat outdoor patio at 495 W. Avenida Vista Hermosa, next to the southbound freeway on-ramp onto I-5.
Set back about 100 yards behind Chick-fil-A will be a four-level boutique hotel with 129 rooms, the exact total to be announced. The 10-screen cinema will be located in an existing building near the opposite end of the Outlets at San Clemente.
The outlet center may also be ready in early 2019 to announce two additional restaurants, outlet center developer Steve Craig said.
He said Marriott is on board for the Autograph Collection hotel, and construction could begin in February or March.
Marriott describes the Autograph Collection brand, with more than 100 locations worldwide, as “a beacon of good taste.”
“Our aim is to showcase some of the most beautifully orchestrated hotel experiences the world has to offer,” Autograph Collection’s website states.
Don’t expect hotel completion during 2019, as construction can take 18 months, Craig said. Cinema development will require remodeling of an outlet center building dedicated to it. That may extend the opening date into 2020, but “we still have hopes of opening it in 2019,” Craig said.
One movie auditorium will feature a 60-foot PLF (Premium Large Format) screen, the outlet center announced. Metropolitan Theaters, with 16 locations in California, Colorado, Idaho and Utah, will offer reserved luxury seating and “a full-service restaurant and bar, providing movie-goers dining options before and after the film, as well as in-auditorium service,” the center said.
The city’s Planning Commission approved the Chick-fil-A on Dec. 5, and the City Council ratified it on Dec. 18 when council members approved the Planning Commission’s meeting minutes. The council did not call up the plan for review.
Chick-fil-A can’t begin building immediately, because restaurant permits are tied to progress on the hotel. The city must issue building permits for the hotel before Chick-fil-A can obtain its building permit.
Cecilia Gallardo-Daly, the city’s community development director, said the hotel project is in the final stage of city staff review, plan check. No discretionary reviews by the City Council are needed.
The hotel received the required City Council approval in 2004 as part of a Marblehead Coastal development plan. A national economic collapse in 2008 stalled Marblehead Coastal—the hotel, outlet center and the Sea Summit residential project, its trails and parks. The Outlets and Sea Summit restarted and had grand openings in November 2015.
Meanwhile, two miles inland from I-5 along Avenida Vista Hermosa, Target plans to parcel off the west end of its parking lot in 2019 to make way for a drive-thru restaurant, two smaller eateries and a bank. The project won the Planning Commission’s approval on Dec. 19.
The Planning Commission’s meeting minutes outlining the Target project’s approval could be up for City Council consideration Jan. 15.
The project at 990 Avenida Vista Hermosa is across the street from Vista Hermosa Sports Park. A pedestrian ramp from the Vista Hermosa sidewalk up to the site will be designed to make it easier for people visiting the sports park to access the eateries.
Fred Swegles is a longtime San Clemente resident with more than 47 years of experience reporting in the city.