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Martin A. Brower's Along the Coast

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Anaheim’s JW Marriott progresses
One of a spate of new hotels proposed for the Disney Resort area of Anaheim is ready for the city’s approval process, and this one is a potential gem: a JW Marriott. The JW brand is the top of hotel giant Marriott’s brands, and the 466-room, 12-story hotel would rise on a 2.8-acre parcel adjacent to the Anaheim GardenWalk retail center.

To be developed by a partnership of Prospera Hotels and O’Connell Hotels & Hospitality, the JW Marriott would be classified by Anaheim as a “convention hotel.” Included would be underground parking for 352 vehicles. New hotels in Anaheim that rank as four stars – which the JW Marriott would strive to become – are entitled to the city’s newly adopted 70 percent rebate on bed taxes for 20 years.  

Proposed by the city’s general plan, also adjacent to GardenWalk, is a 350-room resort hotel and a 400-unit timeshare facility. Construction of the projects would be staggered, with the JW Marriott moving first. The GardenWalk center, on Katella Avenue, opened in the 2008 recession, went through a change of ownership, and now emphasizes restaurants and entertainment venues rather than shops. Adding to its new positioning is the House of Blues, moving from Downtown Disney.

Building booms in Rancho Mission Viejo
Residents of new master-planned residential communities typically find it hard to accept that they have to wait for their community to be heavily occupied before the developer can attract tenants for a neighborhood shopping center. Until the community has reached some level of maturity, residents sometimes have to travel long distances for everyday shopping needs. Such has been the case with the residents of Sendero, Rancho Mission Viejo’s first new community in south OC.

But now that nearly all of Sendero’s 1,200 residential units have been occupied, and with the start of home sales in Esencia, Rancho Mission Viejo’s nearby second community,
which will eventually have 3,000 residential units, a shopping center is underway. Westar Associates, Costa Mesa, has started construction of Sendero Marketplace, an 11.5-acre neighborhood retail center. The 98,000-square-foot center on Antonio Parkway and Ortega Highway is scheduled to open in late 2016 and will be anchored by a 35,000-square-foot Gelson’s supermarket.

Design of Sendero Marketplace will present ranch-style architecture with roughened adobe walls and stone accents. A community gathering area with outdoor seating will give Sendero a “downtown.” Shoppers are expected not only from Sendero and Esencia but also from the communities of Rancho Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Coto de Caza and the city of San Juan Capistrano.

Newport plans hit a snag
A unique design concept has been revealed for the Newport Center Villas, the seven-story, 49-condominium complex that developer Newport Center Anacapa Associates would like to erect on the current site of the firm’s Newport Center car wash. But as can be expected, strong local resident opposition is growing against any development of the 1.3-acre site at 150 Newport Center Drive. Approval of land use will be in the hands of the Newport Beach City Council. The project requires a general plan amendment and a zone change.

The owners of the site had originally proposed a 125-room boutique hotel but that was voted down by residents along with several other changes to the city’s general land use plan.

As conceived by Irvine architects MVE + Partners, Newport Center Villas would have 10 townhomes on floors one and two; 35 flats on floors three through six; and four penthouses on floor seven. The luxury condominium units would range from 2,285 to 3,583 square feet. Included would be a rooftop swimming pool.

The developers point to the success of the Meridian condominiums close to selling out in Newport Center adjacent to the Marriott Hotel as an example of the demand for luxury condominiums in Newport Center. A classic, typical Newport Beach zoning battle is certain to ensue.

Irvine considers ice rink
With public ice skating facilities relatively rare throughout Southern California, a public ice skating facility could be coming to the city of Irvine, in the southwest corner of the Orange County Great Park.

The nonprofit facility would be developed and operated by H&S Ventures, the firm that owns and manages the Anaheim Ducks ice hockey franchise. But the proposed ice rink would not be used by the Ducks but instead would be open to the public, being operated by the Ducks’ charitable foundation. (H&S is obviously named for Henry and Susan Samueli, the Newport Beach billionaire philanthropist couple who own the Ducks.)

Revenue from the ice rink would be directed to promotion of youth ice sports in Orange County.

Under terms of the proposed agreement, H&S would be awarded a 35-year lease on a 10-acre site within the Great Park for the rent of $1 per year, with three five-year extensions. The city would provide access to the site, and the facility would revert to the city of Irvine at the end of the lease. The city is considering the proposal.

Pacific City Opens
Pacific City’s brand new retail center, with views of the ocean from its location on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, is an upscale dining, shopping, walking and people-watching complex to rival some of the best in Southern California.

Developed by DJM Capital Partners, San Jose, the $135 million, 191,000-square-foot center eventually will have 60 shops and restaurants, and about one-third are already open. Designed by the noted retail architectural firm of Jerde Partnership, with SMS Architects, the design concept is that of a beach bungalow, but a really large one. Pacific City’s retail center is part of the 31-acre Pacific City development, which includes the posh Pasea Hotel & Spa, scheduled to open in 2016, and an apartment village. For more on Pacific City and OC’s other new shopping center, Outlets at San Clemente, turn the page.

Ending Era for Amelia’s by Nancy Luna

Amelia Seton opened Amelia’s Restaurant on Balboa Island in 1961, taking over a former seafood spot. She kept the seafood-centric menu, later adding her authentic Italian dishes. Seton died in 2010 but the family-run eatery remains an icon on the island.
Over the past four decades, Seton’s daughter and son-in-law, Hetty and John Robinson, have been running the Marine Avenue restaurant. After much soul searching, the Robinsons and their daughter, Alexandra, have decided to sell the property, which includes the land and the restaurant.

It was put on the market for $2.5 million. “We’re all ready to turn the page,” Alexandra said. But don’t say goodbye to Amelia’s just yet.

Robinson said her parents are hopeful they’ll find a buyer willing to keep the 1,700-square-foot restaurant operating as Amelia’s. But they are realistic that investors seeking to launch a fresh concept will likely seek the premium property in the heart of Balboa Island.
In 1945, Amelia Arbace married U.S. Army Sgt. Greg Seton in Italy, where Amelia was born and raised. The next year Seton and his pregnant wife moved to Silver Lake in Los Angeles. When their schedules allowed, they would visit Balboa Island. When their favorite restaurant, The Cape Cod House, went up for sale, Amelia begged her husband to buy it and opened Amelia’s in October 1961.

 “She was an amazing cook,” said Alexandra Robinson. “Everyone was always saying, ‘You should open a restaurant.’ "

Amelia’s, 311 Marine Ave., Newport Beach, 949.673.6580 :: ameliasbalboaisland.com


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