Beachgoers may soon be able to dine in style at a Bluewater Grill restaurant on the Newport Pier.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Council voted 7-0 to approve an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement between the City of Newport Beach and James Ulcickas and Richard Staunton of Bluewater Grill Restaurant, for preliminary design and lease negotiations for a new restaurant at the end of the Newport Pier.
The city-owned restaurant building at the end of the pier has been vacant since late 2012, when the Newport Pier Grill & Sushi Bar closed after many years at the site.
According to the staff report, the city issued a request for proposals for a tenant to construct and occupy a restaurant space at the end of the Newport Pier in March 2014. After a review of the proposals, staff recommended approval of an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Bluewater Grill owners to allow the City and Bluewater to work together for one year to develop a conceptual building design and to negotiate the terms of a lease agreement for a new restaurant.
The estimated cost for conceptual design is $18,000, which will be shared between the city and Bluewater.
The staff report noted that the existing two-story building was constructed in the 1940s, and was expanded and renovated in the late 1980s. After evaluating the structure and the underlying pier, it was determined the building is beyond its useful life, and its removal and replacement is the best economic option. The restaurant demolition will also allow for renovation of the pier directly beneath the building.
City representatives interviewed Machani Group/Big Fish Tavern and Bluewater last December. Staff recommended the Bluewater proposal was the best fit for the area.
Instead of asking the City Council to commit to a large project, staff suggested developing a conceptual building design in conjunction with Bluewater that addresses design questions.
Once a design is completed, lease terms established, and specific costs determined, staff will return to the City Council with that information and seek further direction.
Staff and Bluewater are working with Kelly Architects for a conceptual design proposal, including 3-D renderings.