The Mission Viejo City Council approved a $19 million bond on Nov. 10 to purchase and renovate a 33,000-square-foot building.
Purchasing the former Stein Mart building is part of the first phase of the city’s Core Vision Plan, which includes the implementation of a walkable village, a paseo, and a connecting entry to the Oso Creek Trail adjacent to the La Paz Center and Mission Viejo Market Place located in the heart of the city.
“I grew up here,” Councilman Brian Goodell said during the Nov. 10 meeting. “It hasn’t changed much since 1970 since I was a kid, and people want some change. They want some freshening up, new ideas, new retailers, new experiences, new entertainment, and food. We’re moving on the vision that we have been working on for quite a long time, and this is just the next step in that longer-term plan.”
Residents who attended the Nov. 10 meeting asked for more information about an appraisal of the former Stein Mart building and the overall site plans.
“The vision plan is a wonderful concept, but the devil is in the details, and I’m asking for transparency and clear consistent messaging from the councilmembers,” a public speaker said during the meeting.
Goodell told attendants that the council wasn’t required by law to disclose details about the appraisal, and doing so would put the council in a bad negotiating position with the seller.
“Be patient please,” he said. “You will get a chance to see once the deal is closed at the appropriate time.”
The Kinstler Family Trust, the former Stein Mart building’s owner, priced the 50-year-old building at approximately $12 million. The remainder of the city’s $19 million bond will be used for improvements and upgrades to the property.
Keith Rattay, assistant city manager and director of public services, addressed the citizen concerns via PowerPoint presentation, laying out the city’s intention for building.
He said the recommended design breaks up the space into smaller sections, allowing restaurants to establish up to 3,000 square feet.
“Establishments today are shrinking in size, and most of the successful newer retail establishments are very food-focused,” he said. “That’s the trend.”