Myself and the Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee are in complete SUPPORT, at this time, of the proposed Ito Property “River Street” development project. We also realize that this project and its design still needs to go through the proper City Council/Commissions process and that there are some issues and concerns that will need to be addressed and negotiated. We would like to document some of our reasons for SUPPORTING the “River Street” project
I was both surprised and honored early on when I was invited by Sheree Ito and Mr. Dan Almquist to participate in informational planning meetings regarding the possible future “River Street” development. I made it clear to both that I was not pro-development and that I would prefer seeing the Ito property remain as is. I let them know that I would be brutally honest, pro historical preservation and would share with them both my good thoughts and concerns regarding their development proposal. One could safely say that I walked in with a somewhat closed mind/mind made up. Still, they welcomed me, my good and negative comments, and even a few of my property/structure development suggestions – incorporating a few of my suggestions into their development designs.
I listened very carefully to what was being stated and proposed regarding the Ito Property site. After several very informative proposal planning meetings I, along with CHAC, have decided that, at this time, we SUPPORT this proposed future development. We definitely realize the historical importance/sensitivity of this area and all of Los Rios District. We also realize that there are still some issues and concerns that need to be addressed and worked out – we will follow this process closely. Please realize that this SUPPORT is coming from me, someone who prefers the “old”, “traditional” and “simpler” San Juan Capistrano days, long gone, to the “new” SJC – my strong SJC historical ancestral family ties along with my 65 years here have made me this way.
This property belongs to the Ito Family and so it is their RIGHT and PRIVILEGE to pursue the best future/usage for their land. The Ito family has been great and longtime stewards of this land, good neighbors, historically supportive and involved and contributors to all of San Juan Capistrano. They’ve occupied and carefully cared for and maintained this site since I was in High School. I’ve often thought about the negative development options that could have been introduced/proposed by them for this property site such as more office space structures, mini strip type mall, another hotel maybe, maybe even an apartment building or two. Instead, the Ito’s worked long and hard to find someone and something that they felt would be the best and most appropriate fit for this rich historical area. I believe they found that in Dan Almquist.
The Ito family along with Dan Almquist and his team have carefully and thoughtfully put together a great proposed future development plan that we (CHAC) feel would greatly benefit this part of Historic Los Rios. They have carefully considered the rich historical importance, rich building structures, and design and historical sensitivity of this area. We feel that allowing this development to move forward would only be a very POSITIVE COMPLIMENT to the Los Rios District. It would definitely increase the visitor foot traffic to the south area of Los Rios, benefit the visitor flow to the treasures found and experienced at the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, benefit the existing businesses and be another positive welcome and invitation for people to visit Historic Los Rios Street, the oldest existing neighborhood in California.
I’ve met with my Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee Board of Directors several times on the progress/possible development plans coming out of the meetings with Sheree, Dan, and his team. We realize that a lot of work still needs to be done by them and as I stated earlier, we will be closely observing and listening when future Council and Commission meetings occur regarding their proposal.
In closing, myself and CHAC applaud Sheree and Doug Ito and Dan Almquist team for their efforts in making sure they talked with many local/involved historical minded individuals, researched the Los Rios area and worked hard to incorporate and respect all the historical elements and sensitivity of this area. Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee thanks them for the sincere respect they’ve shown and we wish them the very best as they move forward with their “River Street” proposed development planning. They have proven to us that they want to build something that is unique, complimentary and will “marry” well into the Historic Los Rios District.
For the Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee Board of Directors/JSN
Members of the Nieblas Family of San Juan Capistrano/JSN
Jerry Nieblas, President of CHAC, Pre-Mission SJC descendant of Maria Bernarda Chigilia/ Ancestral Villages of Putuidem/Sagavit and Early Californio Rancho Yorba/Rios Families.