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Martin A. Brower's "Along the Coast"

Building begins on Oceanfont Bluffs

Village could replace RV lot
A pedestrian-oriented waterfront village and a highly contemporary restaurant and marina complex are planned for two sites in Newport Beach, where Bayside Drive intersects with East Coast Highway just south of the bridge over Upper Newport Bay.

The waterfront village, called Back Bay Landing, still must go through the California Coastal Commission and the city of Newport Beach approval process. Planned for the 7-acre site of a recreational vehicle and boat storage lot on the inland side of East Coast Highway and adjacent to Upper Newport Bay, Back Bay Landing will include a public walkway fronting 60,000 square feet of restaurants and marine-oriented shops; a storage facility for 140 boats; and 49 residential condominiums.

Developer Bayside Marina LLC had proposed a group of free-standing condominiums, but the Coastal Commission has ordered the condos to be part of a mixed-use concept, with retail on the first floor and residential units above. Another point of contention was the developer’s desire to include a 65-foot-high coastal viewing area, but the Coastal Commission ruled that the project must hold to the area’s 35-foot height limit.

During Coastal Commission hearings, a number of nearby residents spoke in favor of approving the development as a welcome replacement for the current asphalt-covered RV storage lot. A few residents of an adjacent mobile home park expressed concern about the public walkway near their mobile homes, but the Coastal Commission loved the public walkway concept.

The other proposed development, on the Newport Harbor side of East Coast Highway, is called Balboa Marina West. The site is a 3.5-acre parcel between Bayside Drive and the bridge, which old-timers will recall as the location of the Reuben E. Lee faux paddle-wheeler restaurant.

The Irvine Co., which owns the site and the adjacent Balboa Marina, proposes eight public boat slips, 24 private slips and a 14,252-square-foot restaurant. As designed, the restaurant
would be in a highly contemporary single-story structure with sliding glass walls and a metal roof pierced by skylights. No operator for the restaurant nor time frame for construction has been announced.

A makeover for Jamboree Road
Plans for development of several office-and-apartment complexes along Jamboree Road in Irvine, especially the stretch between the 405 and Campus Drive, will eventually transform the area from its longtime industrial heritage into a modern residential and commercial boulevard.

The latest project in planning is for a metropolitan commercial center on a 9.4-acre industrial site on the corner of Jamboree Road and Michelson Drive that once housed the manufacturing and office facilities for St. John Knits. The developer is LBA Realty of Irvine, the same firm that owns 105-acre Park Place on Jamboree, catty-corner from the new site.
Plans by LPA Inc. of Irvine call for a 10-building, 400,000-square-foot campus to house offices, retail shops and restaurants, a movie theater and a hotel. If approved by the city of Irvine, offices would be in two five-story buildings and the 150-room hotel would rise seven stories.

LBA purchased the site in 2014 and plans to demolish the industrial building currently occupied by Obey Clothing. As proposed, plans will go to the city’s Planning Commission and then the City Council late this year.

Relief for 55 freeway years away
There is arguably no worse bumper-to-bumper traffic in Orange County than the four-mile stretch of the 55 from the 405 to the 5 during rush hour. Except for the Eastern Transportation Corridor toll road, only the 55 and stoplight-plagued surface streets carry traffic from central Orange County to northern Orange County and into Riverside County.
Help might be on the way. Caltrans is considering widening the 55 from the 405 in Costa Mesa to the 5 in Tustin. Currently, the 5 has four general lanes and one carpool lane in each direction. Caltrans is considering five options, including adding one general lane and one carpool lane in each direction and re-working intersections along the way. A series of meetings to obtain public comment has been underway.

Of course, widening means acquiring land on both sides of the freeway and that means impinging on businesses whose property abuts the freeway.

But don’t hold your breath. If the decision is made to do anything – and the decision might be to do nothing – the improvement project would be scheduled to take place between 2019 and 2022. So for now, either avoid that stretch of the 55 during rush hour or allow plenty of time.

Fire station and library updates
A “fibrary”? That is the nickname given to the proposed combination fire station and library recently approved on Marigold Avenue in Corona del Mar to replace two adjacent 1950s structures – an outdated fire station and an aging library.

The new 10,000-square-foot, two-story building, pegged to cost $8 million, will include a 3,872-square-foot library on the first floor. The size of the library was the object of initial concern by Friends of the CDM Library, who objected to earlier plans that presented a smaller library than the current facility. As approved, the library will be of a suitable size and will include a reading porch, a sizable children’s section and parking for strollers.
The fire station will have its apparatus bay and equipment storage on the first floor and living quarters for firefighters on the second floor.

Design of the “fibrary” will be Prairie style, and on-site parking will accommodate 30 vehicles. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall with opening by fall 2017.

New village in Dana Point
A long-vacant, 9-acre former mobile home park site on Pacific Coast Highway and Del Obispo Street in Dana Point’s Doheny Village area is scheduled to see new construction during 2016 when Zephyr Partners of Encinitas begins work on a project called Doheny Beach Village. The three-story, 168-townhouse development will include some retail.
Doheny Beach Village is Zephyr’s first entry into Orange County. The firm purchased the fully entitled site for a reported $50 million from a Los Angeles venture that acquired the site after Makar Properties purchased the mobile home park in 2004 for a reported $10.1 million, vacated the mobile homes and arranged zoning through the city of Dana Point and the California Coastal Commission, only to lose the entitled site to bankruptcy during the last recession.

Building Begins on Oceanfront Bluffs

After 40 years and a series of landowners who failed to gain approval to develop the magnificent oceanfront bluffs called Marblehead in San Clemente, the city of San Clemente and the California Coastal Commission approved development, and homes are selling rapidly in developer Taylor Morrison’s new community called Sea Summit.

Taylor Morrison division President Phil Bodem has unveiled 12 models in the firm’s eventual 248-residence luxury community, which he calls “a Spanish village by the sea.” Boden points out that early homebuyers are mainly inland Orange County residents looking to live next to the Pacific Ocean.

Sea Summit consists of four neighborhoods, and homes range from 2,212 to 5,544 square feet with up to five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths. Prices range from the low $1 million ballpark to the high $3 millions.

The 248-acre Sea Summit site includes 116 acres of protected native-habitat open space, five community parks and 4 miles of trails. Coming is the Summit Club, a 6,500-square-foot clubhouse for residents.

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