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Bold investments to enhance Oso Creek and implement Core Area Vision Plan

core area vision plan rendering

Mission Viejo is proactively and uniquely working to address the economic fallout from the pandemic and seismic shifts happening in the way we work and live. Today, more than ever the Core Area Vision Plan, the community-based design for the City’s Downtown Core area approved by the City in 2017, is ripe with opportunity for economic revitalization.  

The community’s robust feedback in the early stages of this project helped shape the vision for a lifestyle destination connecting our civic and retail core to more restaurants, shops and cultural arts activities.  

During the summer, the City has been negotiating the purchase of the Stein Mart site. The property’s proximity to Oso Creek provides an incredibly unique opportunity to set in motion one of the Vision Plan’s core principles, “Connect to the Creek” and also moves us closer to creating a walkable village, paseo and vibrant community central core.  

The City Council on September 14 will review the options for financing the purchase, which will be the first tangible step toward implementing the community-driven vision for a walkable village, paseo, and incredible entry that connects to Oso Creek and Trail.  

As part of this unique process to benefit our community for years to come, two major bond proposals will be introduced for Mission Viejo: 1) The City will consider a $46 million bond to purchase the Stein Mart site, redevelop with small retail spaces that will be leased, and create a paseo (a plaza or walkway for strolling) that connects to Oso Creek, taking on the role of landlord/developer.  2) The Santa Margarita Water District will consider a $42 million bond to build a state-of-the-art water treatment plant for Oso Creek to clean and treat the water. 

Part of the economic redevelopment plans for the City’s downtown core, the City will discuss the bond issue to purchase the Stein Mart site in the Village Center beginning at 6 pm on Tuesday, September 14 in the Council Chamber at 200 Civic Center.  

Mission Viejo community stakeholders have expressed excitement and enthusiasm over the last several years for redeveloping the Downtown Core area. It is also essential to update the water treatment facility to more effectively treat the water flowing through Oso Creek. Mark your calendar for Tuesday, September 14 to learn how these bold investments are the key first steps toward making the Core Area Vision Plan a reality for our community and future generations of Mission Viejo.

For more information, visit https://envisionmissionviejo.com. Information about Council meetings is available on this webpage.  


Submitted by Bronislaus Kopra on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 6:36 pm


The glossy video did not appear realistic. What happens to all the parking ?
it appears the parking was taken away to build up a park.
Consider the loss of sales tax revenue when the Steinmart and Michaels locations are turned into a park.

Submitted by William F. Dumler on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 6:52 pm


This isn't clear, will the entire shopping center be purchased, or just the Stein Mart building? If not then this doesn't make sense to me and could end up like the Mission Viejo "Bullet Train". When I hear phrases like " Core Area Vision" from politicians I get the idea a boondoggle is on the way...

Submitted by Ron Birtch on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 6:58 pm


This has been a discussion for many years amongst the community. Hopefully it will come to fruition down the road. Past ideas and input may be finally realized. Let’s get it done! Hopefully the Ralph’s side will become part of it….many complications in the matter to overcome ie landowners…

Submitted by Jim Grissom on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 8:07 pm


Some attention will need to be paid to the traffic on Marguerite Parkway. Sections are often near gridlock from La Paz to Oso. Including the stoplights at La Paz and Oso, there five lights along the little more than one mile of two lane of roadway going north and south. This is the only north/south roadway in the area. Estanciero, a residential street, is used by many to bypass the congestion to get to and from the freeway.

An increase in traffic caused by more people being attracted to the area could choke to whole area to a standstill.

Submitted by Jeff Matlin on Fri, 09/10/2021 - 9:55 pm


I am behind the Steinmart purchase ,development of shopping/ eatery concept on this site, & connection to Oso Creek- 100%

Submitted by K Mitchell on Sat, 09/11/2021 - 8:43 am


I am pleased to see that the City is taking steps to enhance and preserve our wonderful area. I like the development of Oso Creek Golf Course and the idea of having an event center also.
We, as a city, need to keep pace with how the world around us is changing. Kudos to those who have had this vision and are taking action to complete it!

Submitted by Chris Perko on Sat, 09/11/2021 - 9:03 am


I’m so sorry that our city is spending money on unnecessary improvements when we are doing nothing to provide housing for low income people. For people to work the lower income jobs, they have to have a place to live. I feel like our town is losing its heart.

Submitted by michael schlesinger on Sat, 09/11/2021 - 10:14 am


Any plans which are developed for the Steinmart site should include affordable housing. Mission Viejo has a population of over 97,000 people and a median household income of $114,688; yet we have only 487 affordable housing units. Other cities of comparable size have between 4-5 times as much. With the price of housing so high, many our public servants like our school teachers cannot afford to live here. I know of a case where a minister of a local church cannot afford to live with his flock because of the high cost of housing. There are no longer any buildable lots for affordable housing. Thus, we must look to commercial sites for placement and the Steinmart site is an excellent location because of public transportation and convenient shopping for food, drugs, etc. The City to date has rejected the Steinmart site for affordable housing; this policy must be reversed!!!

Submitted by Norma McClellan on Sat, 09/11/2021 - 3:57 pm


Like the idea of the development of the steinmart project, but am 100% opposed to the idea of low cost housing. There are jobs in areas that are more affordable to reside in-for people who are on a tight budget. I disagree that teachers cannot afford to live in Mission Viejo that is completely untrue. We have many teachers living throughout this area and have for years. Have been a resident since 1972 and have watched many changes take place and an abundance of growth.

Submitted by Carla St. Laurent on Sun, 09/12/2021 - 3:54 pm


I've heard a rundown of the numbers on NextDoor. Too may budget cuts, and on top of that, too much expense. As a longtime resident and taxpayer, i do not support any of this project in any way. We have been through a pandemic, and need to avoid big expenses because the pandemic isn't over yet. Wait. Be prudent. And don't mess up the shopping center.

Submitted by Anthony Elia on Sun, 09/12/2021 - 4:40 pm


Obviously the 2017 Core Vision Plan for retail and commercial development is hopelessly out of date.

Obviously the City of Mission Viejo decision makers and staff must hire an experienced, area professional development firm to avoid a repeat of the failure of The Kaleidoscope property which has decreased in value by two-thirds due to impractical design, negative cash flow, vacancies and low customer traffic. Two million Mission Viejo tax dollars wasted.

Obviously no money should be spent to buy a property, including SteinMart, without securing "bankable" individual building property owners and/or tenants.

Obviously it is not reasonable to further place our children and grandchildren in debt by issuing bonds for a project that should be conventionally financed and enhanced with government grants for infrastructure.

Obviously the City of Mission Viejo, through Housing and Urban Development and/or other grants, could be responsible to pay for infrastructure improvements, including the walkways. Common area charges for maintenance and repair of the park areas should be back-charged to property owners and tenants.

Obviously each building should be conventionally financed with owner/occupied or "bankable" tenants providing sufficient positive cash flow to cover mortgages and all operating expenses.

Obviously The Core Area Vision Plan is neither bold nor unique since similar city ventures with an out-of-country developer such as The Kaleidoscope or Creekside in a middle-income suburb of Columbus OH (Gahanna), have failed spectacularly, with multiple owners, over the past 20 years.

Obviously a water feature, such as Oso Creek, cannot guarantee the success of any commercial venture.

The taxpayers and voters of Mission Viejo look forward to an updated development plan which has a reasonable risk assessment to include a ten-year timetable, types of businesses/retail and cashflow projections.

Submitted by STEPHEN CHILDERS on Mon, 09/13/2021 - 2:20 pm


We think it is a ridiculous waste of money to purify the water going down Oso Creek. What is the purpose? It is just fine being a runoff creek. We have walked the trail several times and enjoyed the walk without needing to go into the creek.

Another ridiculous waste of money is taking over Stein Mart to make an Oso Creek Trail entrance. The Norman Murray Center is already in place nearby for wonderful entrance to Oso Creek and the trail.

We think there are a lot better uses for $90 million than these two boondoggles.

Submitted by Anthony Elia on Tue, 09/14/2021 - 10:05 am


As a voter, active member and owner of one of the 2,614 homes in the Oso Valley Homeowners Association, I believe that there would be strong community support for the creation of a professional union-supported trade school located in the Stein Mart building to teach high school graduates plumbing, electrical, HVAC and/or finish-carpentry work.

The Trust which currently owns the building or a new private investor would gain the benefits, including positive cashflow, of a long-term renter. Continued property taxes would benefit the City of Mission Viejo and the Capo Valley Unified School District. The surrounding shops and services could gain new customers.

Long-term, the newly-trained professionals should earn enough money to raise a family and purchase a home in Mission Viejo.

City of Mission Viejo executives and staff should pursue Housing and urban Development and other grants to provide upgraded infrastructure to the shopping center property.

The expense for the proposed water purification plant for Oso Creek is unjustified.

Neither project requires a bond issue. Our children and grandchildren require continued services provided by the City of Mission Viejo including fire and police protection and our excellent library.

Submitted by Anthony Elia on Wed, 09/29/2021 - 1:49 pm


Since the City Manager, elected City officials and attorneys are excited about developing a retail center adjacent to Oso Creek, are they all willing to guarantee to take a 10% cut in pay and benefits if the project fails to pay for itself?

Successful commercial real estate developers know that securing pre-committed tenants or at least "letters of intent" from credit-worthy businesses such as restaurants, soft goods and service providers are necessary prior to buying a property.

City employees with no commercial development experience are relying on a bond salesman, a retail consultant, architect and other "yes men" advisers who will disappear once their fees are paid.

Leasing struggles at Mission Mall and Kaleidoscope, and the collapse of Laguna Hills Mall suggest that the timing for the City of Mission Viejo's project is ill-advised.

As taxpayers we are not amused that the City Manager, Mayor, City Council and City Attorneys are using a 2017 out-of-date study to play Monopoly with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Taking more than $3 million a year away from existing City services and using our terrific library and Murray Senior Center buildings as collateral is obscene.

Submitted by Rebecca Reese on Sat, 01/22/2022 - 9:31 am


A ‘downtown’ area for mission. Viejo would be wonderful. Why not do this at the lake? The side where Yama sushi is. More restaurants, shops, farmers markets, live local bands, street fairs, taste of mission viejo, etc.

Submitted by Debi Stanley on Sun, 05/28/2023 - 12:35 pm


Currently, retail stores are closing with announcements of more to come. I believe this trend is a slow moving transition of how retailers will come back. 2023 is definitely a tear down cycle that will continue to leave our City with non-performing retail centers. With vacancies up, why would we want to develop new retail with existing centers struggling? These anchor tenant losses drastically impact revenue for the centers to operate, and with it City revenues decline. I think the City of Mission Viejo should pause new retail development and shift it’s focus on what can be done to revitalize our existing centers.

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