City planners this week granted several key concessions to the developers of Plaza Pacifica, a proposed 600,000-square-foot shopping center that would be the largest commercial project in San Clemente.
On a 6 to 0 vote, the Planning Commission agreed Tuesday night to ease the restrictions on a 145-unit residential portion of the project and allow it to move forward without being tied to construction in the commercial center. Commissioner John Tengdin was absent.
The panel also eliminated some of the requirements for street improvements by the developers.
"The main thing is, we still have a quality project that will be a tremendous asset to the city," said Lew Elia, the commission's chairman.
The concessions were prompted by the developers' need to get financing for the project, Elia said. Costa Mesa-based Ramser Cos. is the main developer, while Kaufman and Broad is expected to build the residential portion.
"Financing has changed dramatically in the last four or five years," Elia said. "You have to be creative and innovative to get money. . . . But obviously it's much easier to get money for a housing development than commercial development."
The business center is planned to include as many as 12 movie screens, a food plaza, medical offices, several major retail stores and a gas station.
Grading for the 142-acre project, near La Pata and Avenida Pico, is to begin in mid-November.