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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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More Speculation on the Ranch Marketplace

We discussed the size and potential tenants of the Ranch Marketplace (the proposed ten acre retail center at the corner of Ortega Highway and Antonio Parkway) in this post.  We’ve done some more thinking and researching and wanted to further explore two questions relating to the layout of this new retail center.

First, will the Ranch Marketplace include a gas station?

There are pros and cons to having a gas station at the corner of Ortega and Antonio.  The most obvious advantage is convenience.  Currently, the nearest gas stations are at Mercantile East in Ladera Ranch, or one of the two stations on Ortega at the I-5 interchange.  Among the drawbacks are traffic and aesthetic concerns.  The fact that both Antonio and Ortega are divided highways makes facilitating left turns in and out of the retail plaza difficult, particularly so close to the main intersection of Antonio and Ortega.  Adding a gas station just increases the number of vehicles entering and exiting the plaza at what is likely already going to be a congested area.  Aesthetically, there is nothing that screams “suburbia” louder than a large service station with its prominent signage and jarring expanses of concrete.  Finally, have a gas station in close proximity to San Juan Creek creates a risk, albeit small, of a leak that would pollute the creek downstream all the way to Doheny State Beach.  All things considered, we’d rather that the Ranch Marketplace didn’t have a gas station.  No doubt there will be more appropriate locations elsewhere in the Rancho Mission Viejo development, particularly along to proposed 241 “Tesoro” extension.

We initially assumed that the Ranch Marketplace will include a gas station, based on a comment made on the Rancho Mission Viejo website for Sendero. that future residents can “[l]oad up on supplies at our 10-acre retail plaza (planned for 2015)” and promises that “[y]ou’ll find everything you need from groceries and gas to take-out and dry cleaning right here on The Ranch.”  But we’ve found some documentation that indicates that the Planning Area 1 retail plaza will not contain a gas station.  Please see the graphic below, which was excerpted from the publicly available materials on the OC Planning Commission’s website:

We’ve circled the three areas designated for a gas station in Planning Areas 2 and 3.  As you can see, the retail location in Planning Area 1 (Sendero) was not approved for a gas station.  Please note, however, that this map is part of the original Ranch Plan revised in 2006.  It is possible that the specifics have changed, so we’re not willing to say definitely that the Ranch Marketplace will not contain a gas station.  But it isn’t guaranteed.

Second, how will the Ranch Marketplace be designed?

In our post, we quickly laid out what a hypothetical 100,000 square foot retail plaza might look like on the project site.  We also criticized our own design, saying that if we were really designing this plaza, “we would try to orient the dining and pedestrian aspects of the plaza towards the creek and really embrace the location of this property.”  While the newer maps and renderings of Sendero don’t provide any hint of the retail layout, we found a more detailed depiction of the retail plaza in this bubble-era map of Planning Area 1.  Keep in mind that the residential plan changed between then and now, so there is no reason to think that the retail plaza would not have also changed.  However, if you consider what Rancho Mission Viejo originally contemplated for the retail plaza, you might get a glimpse of how the Ranch Marketplace will look.  Because the resolution of the original PDF is so poor when enlarged, we’ve taken the liberty to highlight some of the shapes.  We’ve also added the day care and office facilities where they are currently indicated (in the prior plan, the day care facility was on the other side of Ortega).

If we had to guess, building A will be the grocery store, building B will be the drug store and the remainder of the retail buildings would provide dining and other amenities.  Note the open areas around buildings C and D.  Is it possible that Rancho Mission Viejo will take our advice and create a dining patio and pedestrian area oriented towards San Juan Creek and open space beyond?  If so, that would be an excellent design feature.

It will be a while before we know for certain what the Ranch Marketplace will include and how it will be designed, but until then it is fun to speculate!

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