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Along The Coast: Construction news to use

August 12, 2017

A new Landmark in Orange County


It’s called The Landmark, and if the high-rise office and hotel project proposed across from John Wayne Airport is approved by the city of Irvine and the Airport Land Use Commission, a landmark it will become.

On a 7-acre site near MacArthur Boulevard and Campus Drive on the Irvine side of the Newport Beach/Irvine border, developer Great Far East Inc. plans to erect two towers – a 19-story, 448,200-square-foot office building and a 15-story, 386-room, four-star hotel. Included on the site would be a 2,089-vehicle parking structure.

Designed by the noted New York architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed, the hotel is envisioned as a U-shaped structure with a second-level pool, meeting space, and 13,665 square feet of retail and restaurants. LPA Inc.’s Irvine office has been selected to work with Pei Cobb Freed on the project.

Great Far East acquired the site, part of the Colton Plaza office complex, in 2015. Two office buildings and a vacant restaurant building on the site would be demolished to make way for the proposed project.  Great Far East officials say construction of the office tower will not begin until it is 40 percent pre-leased and estimate the building will open in three years “if all goes well.” No time frame for construction of the hotel and no potential operator have been announced.

Balboa Peninsula trolley on a roll


The city of Newport Beach has decided to see whether a free trolley might be an answer to traffic congestion and parking problems on Balboa Peninsula. The Balboa Peninsula Trolley will operate every Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 3.

Serving 19 stops along the peninsula beginning at a free parking lot on the southwest corner of the Hoag Hospital campus at West Coast Highway and Superior Avenue, four trolleys run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. all the way to the Balboa Pier. Stops include Lido Marina Village, the Newport Pier, Balboa Village and Marina Park.

The service, provided by Professional Parking of Signal Hill, is being financed by a grant from the Orange County Transportation Authority and by Newport Beach parking revenues. The city is renting 40 parking spaces from Hoag Hospital for the one-year pilot program.

Melvyn’s goes for the facelift


When not dining in one of Orange County’s many fine restaurants, one of my favorite haunts is Melvyn’s in the historic Ingleside Inn in downtown Palm Springs. This is where Newport Beach resident John Wayne idled away some of his time, as did Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, among other Hollywood stars.

Alas, Melvyn Haber, who took over the 1920s-era Ingleside Inn in 1975 and created the luxurious restaurant that bears his name, died in 2016. But the charming hotel and restaurant were acquired last year by the Plumpjack Group of San Francisco.  Plumpjack, using designers Shopworks of Napa, is carefully revitalizing the property, “preserving its inherent charm while bringing it into the present day.”

The 30 rooms, suites and villas of the Ingleside, nestled a block away from the hustle of Palm Canyon Drive, will feature modern appointments, while Melvyn’s restaurant and cocktail lounge will be refreshed. Everything will be ready for public viewing in October.

Santa Ana streetcar is desired 

Santa Ana – imitating Portland, Oregon, and Seattle –  is on track to have an electric streetcar running through the center of town by 2020.

Starting at the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, eight streetcars – six always active – will operate along a 4.1-mile route with stops serving 18 Orange County Transit Authority bus routes, Metrolink stations, the Santa Ana Civic Center and downtown Santa Ana’s thriving art, shopping and restaurant scene.

The route, along Santa Ana Boulevard and historic Fourth Street, will use the abandoned Pacific Electric route through downtown. The tracks extend 600 feet into neighboring Garden Grove. Estimates are that up to 7,300 passengers will ride the streetcars each day within the first year of operation.

The idea for a downtown trolley was born in 2006 and, like all new concepts, not everyone favors it. But money from OCTA’s Measure M and a recent injection of federal funding brought the concept to reality.

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