A project to bring a boutique hotel, restaurant, and café to San Clemente’s North Beach Historic District is currently going through the city’s design and planning process that, at face value, has received praise from the Design Review Subcommittee.
The project has been proposed by the firm of architect Jorden Segraves, who has worked with the owners of the parcel at 1801 N. El Camino Real for years, transitioning the development’s design from retail to a hotel in 2020.
San Clemente Times spoke with Segraves on Friday, Jan. 13 about the design process and the eventual goals, should the hotel come to fruition.
“During the (meetings with) the Design Review Subcommittee for the retail center, we really got an understanding of what the city wanted,” he said. “What the city’s concerns was, what they thought was some of the best features of the site, how they wanted the site to orientate … as well as the views that they want to protect.”
From those meetings, Segraves and his team learned to situate the largest portions of the development in the back corner furthest from the intersection of Avenida Pico and El Camino Real. That way, people driving down Avenida Pico toward the water could have as much view of the ocean as possible.
Additionally, the hotel only has one-story elements closest to Avenida Pico and parking located underneath.
Parking is being addressed, in that the firm is currently reviewing the city’s parking analysis for the North Beach area, Segraves said, and that the entry point was placed in the “least impactful area.”
“It’s far enough away from the corner to allow for the acceleration of the vehicles, as well as anything coming off of Pico, which is probably one of the more busy intersections,” he said. “That right-turn lane coming off of Pico is one of the busier right-turn lanes, so we wanted to keep all of our traffic out of that area.”
Currently, drivers traveling south on El Camino Real toward Avenida Pico aren’t allowed to make a U-turn at that intersection. Segraves said they will conduct a traffic analysis to learn whether allowing U-turns there will be necessary.
He added that he agreed with a point DRSC made about having front-facing community art at the hotel, considering staff deemed the location a “gateway” into the city. The project team met with some of the city’s planning commissioners during a Design Review Subcommittee meeting in mid-December.
Although city guidelines do not require developments to incorporate art into their design, Segraves said he loved the DRSC’s emphasis on including art and that the lot owners are willing to look into the concept.
“We’ll start to look at how we might be able to incorporate that into the design of the project, as well as how we would incorporate that into the signage of the project,” he said. “The client and the city want to work together to make sure that signage program is also aesthetically pleasing for the community and the project.”
With the environmental aspect of the project, Segraves said the team will work with the city’s planning staff to mitigate environmental impacts. He also pointed to the stringent nature of California’s code for building sustainable developments as an important factor.
The design will look to use more open space around the property, especially in landscaping the areas with public access.
Segraves noted that the fact the City of San Clemente has a DRSC is special, as many cities don’t. Comprising Planning Commissioners Steven Camp, Cameron Cosgrove and Barton Crandell, Segraves described them as seasoned officials who have been around the city for years and who understand both the architects’ and local government’s perspectives.
“They’re kind of like a neutral player, where they are identifying things that might help the project: (No. 1) be a better project, and (No. 2) work better with the community and what the community wants,” he said, adding: “They work with us to make sure that the owner is creating the project for them that’s going to be approvable once it goes to the next level.”
He expects to meet with the design team to put together a “more comprehensive presentation” before appearing in front of the DRSC again, hopefully by the end of March.
The project will be an “amazing complement” to the city if approved, he said, in addition to Casino San Clemente, the eventual completion of the Miramar Food Hall, and other nearby businesses.
“It’s going to be a project, a restaurant, and a café that everybody in the community can enjoy, not just the people going to the hotel,” said Segraves.