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Along the coast

The Summer Zephyr is the best-selling sandwich at Sessions West Coast Deli

Planning a new high-rise condo
Is the time once again ripe for high-rise residential condominiums in Orange County? Before the recent recession began, three such projects were completed in Irvine and one in Costa Mesa, and then plans for other high-rise condo projects abruptly stopped. While two of the Irvine towers were eventually sold out, one Irvine tower and the Costa Mesa tower were subsequently converted to rental apartments.

Now the owner of the Wyndham Hotel in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Metro area has plans for a 23-story, 100-unit luxury condominium on a site adjacent to the hotel on Avenue of the Arts. The bold design for the tower depicts aluminum cladding and strong curvilinear projections, indicating an important architectural addition to the Arts District.

The owner of the Wyndham and developer of the proposed condo is Rosanna Inc., an affiliate of a Hong Kong real estate investor that acquired the hotel and the adjacent site in 2009 out of bankruptcy for a reported $21 million. Rosanna subsequently invested $16 million to renovate the Wyndham and converted it to a four-diamond, AAA facility.

First-phase plans call for construction to begin as early as February on a six-level, 422-space parking structure to replace the current smaller parking structure, with the hotel to remain open during the entire development period. The condo tower, offering units ranging from 900 to 2,650 square feet, could be completed by June 2018.

More space for doctors
Although there are 1.3 million square feet of medical office space in the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa area, essentially in the Hoag Hospital service area, the vacancy rate is a low 5.6 percent. “Doctors are waiting in line for medical offices near hospitals, and new spaces fill as soon as they become available,” says medical real estate investor Gordon Fishman. Adding to the space demand, he says, is that today’s medical practices consist of large groups of physicians and typically require large suites of offices.

Aiming to help fill the need for more medical office space, the firm Real Estate Development Associates, Newport Beach, has acquired four acres on Birch Street in the Newport Heights area. It plans to begin construction this summer on two two-story medical buildings totaling 64,000 square feet. To be called the Newport Heights Medical Campus, the new facilities will be licensed for outpatient surgery and dialysis, providing more of the services now being accomplished outside of hospitals.

Each building will have relatively large floor plates, providing the flexibility to offer spaces from 3,000 to 10,000 square feet. The complex will provide a campus-like environment, complete with patios and lush landscaping.

OCMA’s present and its future
The Orange County Museum of Art is working furiously in two directions at the same time. New CEO and director Todd DeShields Smith is out in front pushing hard for the museum to make its long-discussed move from its current location in Newport Center to a site adjacent to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. But museum communications manager Kirsten Schmidt wants the public to remember there is still a  lot of life left at the current location, which the museum will operate for at least several more years.

Plans for the move are heating up. Henry Segerstrom donated a 1.64-acre site in the Arts District with the provision that ground be broken by June 2017 – just two years from now. The site would house a building designed by renowned architect Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles firm Morphosis with a price tag approaching $50 million for building, relocation and associated costs.

Part of the financing for the new structure would come from the sale of the museum’s current two-acre site. The deal, being negotiated with real estate developer Related California, would stipulate that the Newport Center site be developed into a residential condominium project. But the rest of the financing has to come from a capital campaign, yet to be launched. Anton Segerstrom, son of the late Henry, is an active member of the museum’s board.

Meanwhile, back in Newport Beach, the museum is offering free admission on Fridays, reduced entry fees on other days and later hours, and is bringing in a top-rated exhibition of emerging Chinese artists.

In the May issue, we wrote about the reported interest of several real estate developers in acquiring the Santa Ana Country Club in order to develop the club’s 127 acres. No need to worry: The club’s membership has voted not to sell, but rather to retain, operate and continue to enjoy the beautiful and historic facility.

Coming: a second Sessions:

Sessions West Coast Deli is opening a sandwich shop in Huntington Beach, where it will take over a prime coastal location on Pacific Coast Highway.

Since opening last spring on Newport Boulevard in Newport Beach, Sessions has earned rave reviews for its hefty full-flavored sandwiches. Chef-owner Max Schlutz said he is excited about the surf-and-skate-themed shop’s next location inside the former Papa Joe’s Pizza space, less than a block from Main Street.

Schlutz, who helped launch 25 Degrees in Huntington Beach when he worked for Domaine Restaurants, said Sessions should open mid-June. The 1,600-square foot restaurant has a larger kitchen than the one in Newport Beach, allowing Schlutz to offer more sandwiches and salads.

Sessions, which makes its sauces and dressings from scratch, is known for its big, bright flavors and generous portions. Consider its Cuban sandwich, which contains a few unconventional ingredients such as spicy cherry peppers and chow-chow, a pickled relish. It’s layered with hefty amounts of smoked ham and pulled pork.

“We don’t skimp on proteins,” said Schlutz, who has two business partners.
Yet the restaurant’s No. 1 seller is meatless, he said.The Summer Zephyr is a vegetarian sandwich inspired by caprese salads, with thick lumps of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes marinated in vinegar and sugar, pickled onions, arugula, olive oil, garlic aioli and a balsamic reduction. It’s served on a toasted French roll.

Sessions’ breads arrive daily from Dean Kim’s artisan wholesale bakery, OC Baking Company in Orange.

The Zephyr sandwich is widely popular. “For our one-year anniversary, we sold the Summer Zephyr for $1. We sold 500 of them that day and closed the doors due to exhaustion,” said Schlutz, who helped Taco Bell develop its fast-casual U.S. Taco Co. menu.

The Huntington Beach location, like Newport’s, will also sell breakfast sandwiches. “We’ll see if we can compete with Sugar Shack,” he said.

The Newport Beach location recently received its alcohol permit. Schultz expects to serve beer (maybe six taps) and wine by the end of the summer. He hopes to get approval to sell beer and wine in Huntington Beach at the new location, 414 Pacific Coast Highway.

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