In March 2017, the City Council approved the Core Area Vision Plan prepared by SWA. This plan was developed over a year-long process and included substantial community input. Three concept plans were generated, and the community chose the “Embracing the Oso Creek” concept as the most conservative and desirable redevelopment proposal. The plan highlighted the Oso Creek but rotated the focal point of the shopping center to allow patrons to enjoy the views of the creek and gain access to the Oso Creek Trail system. This process created the CORE AREA VISION PLAN that is being implemented in the central part of the community.
What does the plan include?
The first phase of the Core Area Vision Plan is a reinvestment in our retail and recreation infrastructure. The City of Mission Viejo is reinvesting in the retail core of the community primarily by repurposing the Stein Mart building space and creating the North Paseo (1 of 2 paseos) that will connect the Civic Center and Library through the North Paseo located within the current parking lot to the front of the shopping center building. The North Paseo will run through the current building and provide access to the rear of the shopping center and in the future connect to the north bridge which expands over the Oso Creek. This connects to the Barn & Bridge Outlook, in a future phase, the central point for the expanded portion of the Oso Creek Trail that runs on the eastern side of the Oso Creek Valley. The trail will be expanded from La Paz Road to Marguerite Parkway and will connect to the existing trail head located on Marguerite and a new cantilevered viewing platform along Marguerite Parkway. This viewing overlook will showcase spectacular views of Saddleback Mountain framed by the Oso Valley and Oso Creek below. The platform will also connect the newly expanded Oso Creek Trail on the east to the existing trail on the west side of the creek.
What is the Urban Alley?
The Core Area Vision Plan will also create the “Urban Alley” located along the rear of the buildings. The rear of the Stein Mart building will be reimaged to turn the attention of the Alley towards the creek. This will be accomplished in a few phases as ongoing renovation efforts continue within the center.
The Urban Alley will be a central community gathering place and will include enhanced landscape, lighting, paving, seating areas and a cantilevered gathering plaza climbing sculpture with views of the Oso Creek and the trail below. The Alley will also house new retail spaces oriented towards the Urban Alley to further energize the area and create more opportunities for expanded retail and community gathering. Retail tenants will still be able to obtain access for deliveries during the main business hours of the weekdays. On the weekends, the Urban Alley will be closed to vehicular traffic and come alive with impromptu gatherings and citywide planned events
The Urban Alley concept will strive to ensure that residents enjoy easy access to the entire Core Area while making certain that tenants maintain uninterrupted delivery access and embrace the urban environment. Over time, the Urban Alley will provide for additional retail opportunities facing the Oso Creek.
Community Event Space - Urban Alley
The Community Event Space is placed in the Urban Alley for small gatherings of 50-100 people. The rentable space, primarily outdoors is placed in the heart of the Urban Alley to take advantage of the activities at LOS OSOS. This private event space has a serving kitchen inside the building with some indoor/outdoor seating. A perfect venue to host a party using one of the local restaurants of LOS OSOS.
What is the North Paseo Bridge?
The North Paseo Bridge is a 20′ wide class 1 bike trail designed as a suspended garden over the Oso Creek. This bridge/garden will create opportunities for the community to sit and enjoy views of the Oso Valley and Saddleback Mountain while connecting the east and west banks of the Oso Creek and creating a connected recreational opportunity for the community and providing access from LOS OSOS to the Special Event Glass Barn located on the East Side of Oso Creek. The bridge will have shade trellis, lighting and raised planters to create a suspended garden setting.
Creekside Entertainment Plaza
The Creekside Entertainment Plaza is set on the west bank of the creek and will be the best location to enjoy direct views of the Oso Creek to hear the sounds of the water and watch the wildlife play along the water. This magical setting is placed on the Oso Creek Trail. The trail in this area is relocated behind this restaurant area so members of the community can sit with uninterrupted views of the creek. This setting will be unique to Orange County and feature a small restaurant greenhouse with supportive infrastructure to house a restaurant/bar environment. Seating in the area will be casual and relaxed.
What is the Paseo?
The Paseos are located on the north and south ends of the proposed Civic Core Vision Plan. In the initial phase of the development, the North Paseo will connect the Civic Center and Library from west to east across Marguerite Parkway. It will continue through the parking lot and into the Entertainment Plaza, culminating in the Urban Alley and event bridges. The Paseo will vary in width and include small eateries, recreational activities, water features, seating area and a trail to walk or ride a bike.
Lower Entertainment Plaza
This kid-friendly zone includes a climbing wall and climbing sculptures providing a fun and unique space for families can have fun at while enjoy the views of the Oso Creek Valley.
Central Entertainment Plaza
The LOS OSOS Entertainment Plaza is the repurposed Stein Mart building and will house a collection of unique eateries, coffee shops and one-of-a-kind retail. This indoor/outdoor space will take advantage of the relationship to the Oso Creek and the Urban Alley and will help to support programs and events located across the creek at the ”Special Event Barn.”
The Special Event Barn
The Special Event Barn is a joint use facility between the Santa Margarita Water District and the City of Mission Viejo. The barn structure will be built as a “flex space” that will include an attached large, shaded overhang and large glass walls that can be opened to the Bridge Outlook. The Event Barn will be used to host concerts, art exhibits, corporate meetings and many other community-based gatherings. LOS OSOS Dining Pavilion will support events at the barn by providing opportunities for patrons to walk and grab dinner before or after an event.
Marguerite Parkway Overlook
This overlook is located along Marguerite Parkway across from St. Kilian Church and will be a great viewing and resting spot for patrons who walk the trail.
What is the CORE?
The CORE is the community’s place to gather and celebrate Cultural, Open Space, Recreation and Entertainment. The Core Area Vision Plan includes land along Marguerite Parkway from Jeronimo Road to the north to Oso Parkway to the south as well as the land along La Paz Road and Oso Parkway west to the Santa Ana Freeway. The current Core Area Vision Plan primarily focuses on the land within The Village Center, and in particular, the land that will house LOS OSOS.
The Core Area Vision Plan is a multi-year long-term project. This type of project is intended to span a decade or more before the entire vision is realized. As ownership changes and the communities needs and wants change, this Core Area Vision will adapt and change as well. What will remain is the communities desire to continue to improve access to the Oso Creek and the many wonderful family-oriented amenities established along the Oso Creek trail.
There are a few projects underway in the Core Area that will begin to implement the vision. The first project is the new OCFA fire station located at Via Angelina and Marguerite Parkway. This new structure will set the tone as part of the south entry to the CORE AREA with quality architecture and enhanced landscape. This fire station will host an enhanced fire service with increased capacity to include an Urban Search and Rescue team. This current OCFA staff will be housed in temporary quarters behind the Stein Mart building until the end of 2024.
The second project under way is the development of a new City of Mission Viejo Corp Yard and Oso Creek Recreational Corridor and the Santa Margarita Water District Oso Creek Water Reclamation Plant. This joint agency project includes a new 14,985 square-foot office/storage building, access road and facility parking as well as the creation of flat land to create the Oso Creek Recreational Corridor to be located on the east banks of the Oso Creek. In the future, this new corridor will house an improved Oso Creek trail extension, the Special Event Glass Barn part of the Core Area Vision and a community event plaza for events adjacent to the barn. This first phase prepares the land for future development but does not include any hard improvements. The reconstruction of the treatment plant is currently underway and the project is set to be completed early 2025.
LOS OSOS is the largest CORE AREA project and will be a multi-year phased project. The initial phases will include the development of the North Paseo community gathering space. This space will incorporate the community green, social seating areas and places for the community to gather for event and weekly markets and an outdoor dining option with restrooms.
As part of an initial phase, the development of the supportive retail and the transformation of the current Stein Mart building will allow the development of the Paseo. This phase will dramatically renovate the current building and breaking apart the building in to two distinct commercial areas and the entertainment plaza at the North Paseo. Some improvements will also be developed to begin to establish the Urban Alley providing access to the Oso Creek trail.
A future phase will include the balance of the Urban Alley improvements and the lower level entertainments plaza situated along the creeks edge to include the North Paseo Bridge and access to the eastern banks of the Oso Creek.
The Special Event Barn will be constructed as grant funding becomes available.