In a letter to the city and in an official statement, the Irvine Company voiced their objection to the controversial high-rise residential project in Newport Center known as Museum House.
The 25-story, 295-foot tall, 100-residential-unit project Museum House has been proposed to replace the Orange County Museum of Art on approximately two acres at 850 San Clemente Dr. in Newport Center. OCMA is moving to Costa Mesa.
The museum has entered into an agreement to sell its Newport Center site to Related California Urban Housing, LLC, which has proposed the Museum House project.
Newport Beach Planning Commission unanimously approved Museum House on Oct. 20. The project will head to City Council next.
In 1977, Irvine Company donated the two-acre site OCMA (known then as Newport Harbor Art Museum) to “provide the cultural institution with a permanent home in Newport Beach,” the statement reads.
The company followed that up nearly 20 years later and donated an adjacent one-acre parcel at 856 San Clemente Dr., along with $500,000, to expand and improve the art museum.
The city is looking to accept the one-acre parcel as a donation as part of the project’s development agreement, officials explained.
“It never was the intent of Irvine Company to see its gifts to public culture turn into a private development,” the statement reads. “We hope the City of Newport Beach will continue to use the entire property as intended, for cultural purposes.”
Commenting on the draft Environmental Impact Report on the Museum House project, the Irvine Company called the document “lacking in information.”
“The project, as proposed, will have a significant impact on adjacent properties and should be analyzed with respect to the appropriateness of sitting a structure of this size adjacent to residential and other low-rise development,” Senior Vice President of Entitlement and Public Affairs Dan Miller wrote in the letter.
The company explained some of their concerns in a letter to city Senior Planner Gregg Ramirez. Project height, shadow impacts, and traffic were all mentioned in their comments.
“It is our belief that all three acres – given in good faith to benefit Newport Beach residents in perpetuity – add to the city’s prosperity, vitality and enrichment,” company officials explain in the statement. “Irvine Company believes that Newport Beach residents deserve first-class cultural amenities.”