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Martin A. Brower's Along the Coast

Newport Beach Country Club

Five Lagunas breaks ground
It required a number of years and several ownerships, but the 43-year-old Laguna Hills Mall, the first regional shopping center in south Orange County, is finally undergoing a major renovation. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Laguna Hills Mayor Barbara Kogerman climbed into the seat of a bulldozer and actually pulled the lever that brought down the old Laguna Hills Mall sign, unveiling the mall’s new name: Five Lagunas.

Owner/developer Merlone Grier Partners plans to create “an urban village, a downtown experience” on the 64-acre site to serve the Five Lagunas for which the center is named – Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods and Laguna Canyon.   

When the project is completed in mid-2018, visitors will find a 14-screen luxury cinema, 60 retailers, chef-driven restaurants, a 1-acre park for music and events, and a six-story parking structure. P+R Architects of Long Beach is designing the project. During construction, the Macy’s and J.C. Penney stores will remain open.

As part of the redevelopment, Merlone Grier purchased the closed Sears building; a residential developer will create a 988-unit apartment complex on that site.

Pacific City gets apartments
The Residences at Pacific City, the third element of the three-part, 31-acre Pacific City on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, is well under construction. The first element was the Pacific City retail center that DJM Capital Partners opened last year; the second element was the Pasea Hotel that Pacific Hospitality Group and R.D. Olson opened this year; and the third element, the 31-acre apartment community by UDR of Denver, will open in January.

The Residences at Pacific City will have 516 apartment units in six four-story buildings. Designed by architect MVE+Partners, the buildings will be in a semicircle oriented toward the Pacific Ocean. At the center will be The Wave, a community center with conference rooms, fitness facilities and a 5,000-square-foot swimming pool with an island.

The 52 apartments will range from 657-square-foot studios to 1,761-square-foot three-bedroom penthouses.

Rancho Mission Viejo features one-bedrooms
Perhaps the most surprising fact about the just-opened residential community called The Hilltop Neighborhoods at Rancho Mission Viejo’s village of Esencia is that one of the six neighborhoods has homes priced from the high $300,000s – a price nearly unheard of for a new home in South County. Sage by Meritage Homes offers two-story, one-bedroom, bath-and- a-half residences from 931 square feet in the high $300,000 range.

The Hilltop Neighborhoods offer 42 new models by six homebuilders with square footage ranging from 931 to 3,500 and prices to the low $1 millions. Located on terraced hillsides, the six neighborhoods include two single-story neighborhoods by Del Webb and Calatlantic Homes restricted to age 55-plus buyers. Four neighborhoods by Meritage Homes, William Lyon, MBK Homes, and Warmington Homes are offered for all ages.

All of The Hilltop Neighborhoods surround the resort-style Hilltop Club, with a swimming pool, a barbecue and game facilities.

Newport Beach Country Club opens clubhouse
The new $44 million clubhouse at the Newport Beach Country Club has been completed and, as forecast by club owners the Pickup family, the architects at Melzer, Deckert & Ruder in Irvine have created an architectural icon for Newport Beach. Located on Coast Highway between MacArthur Boulevard and Jamboree Road, the 56,000-square-foot, two-story building replaces the original 1953 clubhouse, which served the membership for 60 years, and is geared toward attracting a younger membership. Included is the 150-seat Seahorse restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, private dining rooms, a 2,500-square-foot fitness center, a 4,000-square-foot ballroom and a dramatic swimming pool with sundeck and cabanas.

Covered verandas overlook the Pacific Ocean and the club’s 18-hole, 71-par championship golf course. Pacific Hospitality Group, which manages the facility, has opened social memberships as well as golf memberships, and the facility is available to the public for social functions.




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