Sunday, April 01, 2018

San Juan Mission to Move

After more than two centuries at the same location, Mission San Juan Capistrano is moving to a new location. In early 2017, it was determined that the Mission wasn’t bringing in nearly enough income to warrant the right to occupy ten acres of prime South Orange County real estate. Now plans have been approved to turn the Mission property into a mixed-use development called SWALLOW and to move certain museum elements to a San Clemente shopping center.

“I want to make sure people understand the Mission is just moving, not closing,” said Robin Passerine, Vice President of the development firm SWALLOW Properties, LLP. “A new and improved version will be moving into a great ocean-view commercial space at the Outlets in San Clemente, which opened in 2015. Mission fans are really going to be delighted by what we have in store for them, including interactive exhibits using VR technology. We’re also putting in a bunch of swallows nests along the exterior, with animatronic birds that pop out at intervals – They’re much more reliable than the real ones, which tend to migrate. There will also be plenty of parking for school buses right in front of the gift shop, along with a variety of adjacent dining options.”
Artist's concept of SWALLOW mixed-use development at the Mission site.
 Meanwhile, back at the old Mission site, Passerine said, “We’ll be creating an experience with a mixed-use live/work/play space that will include shops, a gourmet food hall, a boutique hotel, loft condominiums, and even a pocket park on the site of the Serra Chapel. The park will feature themed play equipment, so children will be able to climb over low adobe walls, climb into a caretta, or peek out the entrance of a giant swallows nest.”

Nearby, a restaurant patio built over the Mission cemetery will use Fr. St. John O’Sullivan’s grave marker as a dramatic centerpiece.
Adobe walls come down easily, exposing inferior early construction techniques.
SWALLOW will be LEED-compliant and its design will also use arches, heritage colors, historical signage, and a repeating motif of cliff swallow silhouettes to reflect the site’s rich traditions.

Plans for SWALLOW promise “catalytic activity, vibrant streetscapes, and a tenant mix reflecting the rich history and culture of San Juan Capistrano.”
Parts of the mission's north wing are raized to make way for a parking structure.
It will not be the first move for the Mission.

In 1775, Franciscan missionaries selected a site for Mission San Juan Capistrano about two miles northeast of its current location. Soon thereafter, there was a native uprising in San Diego, and the padres and soldiers were called away to help. Father Serra himself rededicated San Juan Capistrano at its original site, or “Misíon Vieja,” in 1776. A few years later it was moved to a new site that had a better water supply. In 1782, the Serra Chapel – the oldest California building still standing – at its current location in San Juan Capistrano. A large stone church was completed in 1806, but it was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake that also killed 40 Native Americans.
Animatronic swallows will pop in and out of artificial nests at the new San Clemente location.
“That earthquake did a lot of the demolition work for us,” said Passerine. “Why they’ve hung onto a pile of rubble for all these years is unclear. That parcel fronts both Ortega Highway and El Camino Real and is freeway close. It’s terribly under-utilized.”

Local reaction was mixed. “It’s sad to lose an important California landmark that’s central to our community’s history and identity,” said Cliff Bird, who was walking past the Mission on his lunch break.  “But the economy is the economy, and if development brings in more money than a mission, there’s no way to argue against progress. Cash is the only way to measure whether something is successful or has value.”

[UPDATE: Click through to an addendum on this post.]
Juaneño activist Janet Natoma stands between the bell wall and a wrecking ball.


Barry said...

April Fool!!!!!!

Annie Bear said...

I fell for this completely and was horrified. Sadly, it's really not that hard to believe. Nevertheless, presumably, this is an April Fool's joke, for which I'm grateful!

By the way, I want to take this opportunity to let you know how much I always enjoy your posts on Orange County history.

Anonymous said...

I fell for this story. It was when I was reading it to my husband and saw his reactions that I knew it couldn't be true.

Anonymous said...

Anyway we can get the pop out birds???

Joseph D Santiago said...

Beautifully done, Chris! You should write for The Onion. Start by submitting this story!

EDGE4194 said...

Good job Chris! I fell for it completely. Then I remembered what day it is.

Eric F. James said...

Excellent! You got me.
As a former city commissioner in Dana Point, I'll be keeping an eye on your blog, Chris. Next year won't be so easy. Best regards.

Unknown said...

CHRIS!! I thought "what is this world coming to?" You can not relocate history and keep it history.

Unknown said...

You got me and it's April 2nd!

Surf City Writer said...

I cannot tell you how many times it has been suggested to me that we just "move the mission" and all six extant structures at Historic Wintersburg. I've actually said to a few that "we don't consider moving San Juan Capistrano's mission". Thank you, Chris. This is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

It would not be the same if you had decided to move the mission It has been there sense I was a child. And yes it is a shame that they have chosen to destroy or remake our old buildings in Santa Ana and thru Orange County. And renaming streets and schools. These people who run our county should be ashamed of them self's.