September's Real Estate Update
Stacked for Change
Anyone who has ever driven along Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach over the past 50-plus years – and that would be just about everyone in Orange County – has seen the electricity generating power plant with its two 210-foot high smoke stacks piercing the skyline. Erected between 1958 and 1967, the power plant was owned and operated by Southern California Edison, but in 1998 the only generating plant in Orange County, was sold to AES California.
If all approvals go through, those two smokestacks could come down sometime in the next several years. The AES Huntington Beach Generating Station, as it is officially known, currently uses sea water to cool its generators, hence its location near the ocean. AES hopes to convert the plant to air cooling, which would eliminate the need for vapor-emitting stacks.
An application has been filed with the California Energy Commission and lots of other governmental agency approvals are still required. But AES believes it could begin construction of the revised facility in 2015, have the first generator on-line by 2018 and have the new facility in full operation by 2020.
In place of the 210-foot smoke stacks, the generating station would have six 120-foot high curved, two-toned steam towers in the shape of a wave – providing Huntington Beach with an entirely new 21st Century landmark.
Would a water taxi system be a significant benefit to Newport Harbor? The City of Newport Beach is studying the concept of a water taxi system in which multiple vessels would operate on a loop around the Harbor with perhaps eight stops. One concept has three stops along the Balboa Peninsula, thee stops along Mariners Mile, and a stop each on Balboa Island and in Lido Village.
A water taxi system called a WaterBus is currently in operation in Marina del Rey, subsidized by the County of Los Angeles. But skeptics of a similar system in Newport are concerned about the expense, the amount of usage, and even whether a tram running on the streets surrounding the Harbor wouldn’t be more effective at less cost.
Under study by the City are whether to hire a consultant to determine the feasibility and whether to try a pilot program.
Big additions coming to LBA Realty’s Main Corporate Center at the northeast corner of Main Street and Von Karman Boulevard in Irvine. Planned are a 170-room Hyatt House extended-stay hotel facing Main Street and a nine-story, 242,000-square-foot office building on Von Karman.
The office building will be developed by Hines Interests, Houston, and designed by the renowned architectural firm of Gensler, San Francisco. Design calls for the current trend toward open “creative space” rather than the usual offices and corridors; floor-to-ceiling glass; and a wood-trimmed exterior.
Hyatt Hotels Corporation has not yet announced design nor timing for the Irvine Hyatt House, which is still undergoing review by the City of Irvine.