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Martin A. Brower's Along the Coast

planned-rendering-renovat
An artist's rendering of the planned renovation of Lido Marina Village.

A NEW-CONCEPT MARRIOTT IS UNDERWAY
A fourth high-rise, full-service Marriott Hotel is coming to Orange County. Added to the high-rise, full-serve Marriotts already in Anaheim, Irvine and Newport Beach will be a 14-story, 250-room, $100 million tower in the Irvine Spectrum.

R.D. Olson Development plans to break ground for the hotel by the end of this year on a site near Irvine Center Drive and Alton Parkway, adjacent to the $50 million, 210-room, midrise Courtyard by Marriott opened by Olson last year.

When the new hotel opens by the projected date of 2017, it will include a rooftop bar, a 5,000-square-foot ballroom and additional meeting rooms, which are said to be in high demand in the rapidly developing Irvine Spectrum area.

Designed by WATG architects, Irvine, noted for design of such hotels as the Island Hotel (formerly a Four Seasons) in Newport Beach, the Irvine Spectrum Marriott has been termed a “flagship” hotel because of its introduction of new concepts designed to attract younger travelers. Innovations include an “active lobby” where guests can gather to socialize and work; a bar that becomes a focal point rather than a sideshow; high-tech decor in the public areas and the guest rooms. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is looking for the Marriott brand to become “cool and current.”

Olson Development, which is a story in itself, has been a prolific developer of until now non-full-service Marriott-branded hotels throughout Orange County.

Reflecting the firm’s success, Olson plans to move its headquarters this September from Irvine to the prestigious 21-story 520 Newport Center Drive office tower in Newport Center, recently completed by the Irvine Co.

Future non-Marriott-managed hotels in Orange County being developed by Olson include the 250-room Pasea Hotel planned for a 2016 opening in Huntington Beach’s under-development Pacific City and the proposed 130-room Lido House on the former site of the Newport Beach City Hall.

LAGUNA HILLS MALL REDO NEWS
Here’s the latest news on redevelopment of the Laguna Hills Mall, to be renamed Five Lagunas by new owner Merlone Geier Partners, San Francisco. The former Sears store will be demolished, and on its site Merlone Geier Partners will develop apartments as well as retail, dining and entertainment venues.

Geier Partners acquired the ailing 1973 68-acre mall from Simon Properties in May 2013 and last year purchased the 15-acre adjacent site of the Sears store and its parking. Remaining will be anchor Macy’s. The J.C. Penney and everything south will
be demolished.

When the first phase of Five Lagunas’ restoration is completed in 2018, plans by Perkowitz + Ruth Architects include a second-story luxury multiplex cinema, shops, restaurants, apartments and a one-acre park for outdoor dining. Parking will be in a six-story structure.

A BOARDWALK NEAR THE AIRPORT
Called “the first large speculative office building in the John Wayne Airport area in the past seven years,” the Boardwalk will offer 545,000 square feet of office space in two nine-story interconnected buildings. Location is a 7.5-acre site on Jamboree Road, one-half mile south of the 405 in Irvine.

Developed by Trammell Crow Co. of Dallas, the two buildings will be connected on alternating floors, so spaces up to 65,000 square feet on a single floor will be possible. Target tenants are users of at least 50,000 square feet of space. No tenants have been announced.

Designed by Gensler architects, the Boardwalk will present floor-to-ceiling glass, indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, a two-acre outdoor interactive space, rooftop patios, a fitness center and 5,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space.

Construction is scheduled to begin early next year. Trammell Crow is now a subsidiary of the CBRE Group, so CBRE is the project’s brokerage firm, naturally.

CENTER CITY FOR LAGUNA NIGUEL?
A real downtown for the city of Laguna Niguel is expected to result from development of the proposed Agora Arts District on the site of the former South County Courthouse and near Laguna Niguel’s City Hall on Crown Valley Parkway just off Alicia Parkway. Following an extensive competition by several development firms, retail developer LAB Holdings and residential developer Griffin Real Estate were selected to create the project on a 22-acre site leased from the county of Orange.

The pedestrian-oriented downtown arts district will include a series of pedestrian plazas, open green areas, specialty retail stores, restaurants with outdoor dining, an outdoor performance space, event and meeting areas, a cultural arts plaza and a residential village with 200 apartment units.

The residential aspect met with some opposition from residents, but was finally approved if restricted to 200 units. The city is processing a general plan and zoning change to permit the residential component.

THE LIDO SHUFFLE MAKES PROGRESS
In the early 1970s, Lido Marina Village – opened in 1971 at the entry to the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach – was the place to be. The brick-paved streets were filled with shoppers and diners. But then came several recessions and several owners, and the village suffered as shops closed and visitors vanished.

Now DJM Capital Partners, the San Jose developer that brought us the Bella Terra center and is finally bringing to life Pacific City, both in Huntington Beach, is bringing Lido Marina Village back to life. DJM acquired the ailing complex in 2012, and a major renovation is underway.

When the renovation is completed, DJM plans to “bring back the Village’s charm, with upscale shopping, dining and marina activities.” The 116,000-square-foot Village sits directly on Newport Harbor, and plans include a wider boardwalk along the water, with shops and restaurants opening to the water, and 47 boat slips. New features will include a fountain, and storefronts will be refaced and presented in a three-color scheme developed by boutique real estate developer BetterShelter.

Newport Beach residents and regular visitors are looking forward to the Village’s revival, although no grand opening date has been announced.

FACELIFT COMING TO Santa Ana ZOO   
Whenever I visit the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park, I wonder why there are not more visitors. No, this is not the world-famous San Diego Zoo nor even the Los Angeles Zoo, but in some ways – at only 20 acres – the Santa Ana Zoo is better. There are more than 80 species of animals and always at least 50 monkeys to amuse and entertain children as well as adults.

Now the Santa Ana Zoo is undergoing a $2 million facelift, including installation of an exhibit of giant river otters – big, noisy and active creatures. Location will be in the zoo’s Amazon’s Edge exhibit. Proceeds for the facelift consist of $600,000 in private donations and $1.4 million paid by residential developers in lieu of providing parks.

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Chatter
Gourmet Beach Fare
by Brad A. Johnson

One of the concessions at Big Corona recently got a makeover – and a chef. It’s called Tackle Box. It’s an old building that’s been around forever, but this is probably the first time a real chef has ever stepped into the kitchen.

He’s Brian Huskey, who has worked at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge in Costa Mesa as well as Picca, Eva and Fig & Olive in Los Angeles. He appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Season 11 (New Orleans), a point his charming little brother, Andrew, happily exploits as he engages with customers while he works the cash register. Just don’t expect to see the “celebrity” sibling actually working here. I’ve been twice already, and he was never on the premises.

The food is good: gourmet sandwiches and a few interesting salads and sides. The lobster roll is probably the best I’ve found in Orange County. The rolls are tinted dark brown, almost black – some sort of squid-ink brioche. They’re stuffed with a generous fistful of the best parts of the lobster, not merely the claws (like some places around town). The burger is made with great meat, real cheddar and an excellent bun. Alas, the fries are terrible, likely similar to what the previous concession served.

By beach concession standards, I suppose you could say this place is great. But if you step back and put it into context with, say, food trucks or starter restaurants, it’s just good. That said, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. The menu fits the location. Huskey’s food is exactly the sort of grub that’ll make you happy as you sit at picnic tables, scantily clad and barefoot, soaking up the sun, taking a break from a marathon volleyball session.
The Tackle Box, 3029 E. Shore Ave., Corona del Mar; serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily except Mondays. 949-723-0798 ::tackleboxoc.com.

Coming: Laguna Rooftop Dining
By Bo McMillan | photography by Bryson Agarta, West Coast Produce

Restaurateur Ivan Spier, who owns Mozambique in Laguna Beach, will be opening a new restaurant in the second-story space of the former Rock N’ Fish in mid-September.
Skyloft, Spier’s new venture, will have a stage for live music nightly on the ocean-view rooftop deck of the historic Heisler building.

An announcement from the restaurant says it will have “a robust beverage program” with a mix of cocktails, craft beer and “coast-centric” California wines from two full bars. Menu items will include steaks, salads, sandwiches, seafood and “specialty smokehouse barbecue items.”

The Heisler building is located at the corner of Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway. Tommy Bahama Bar & Restaurant occupies the first floor of the structure. Spier also created Daryl’s House Club in Pawling, NY, with Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates.


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