Museum House Project Seeks Public Input

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By Daniel Langhorne | NB Indy

Newport Beach residents will get their first opportunity on Monday to share their thoughts on a proposed 26-story condominium tower to replace the Orange County Museum of Art’s building in Newport Center.

City planning staff will host a scoping meeting to gather public input that will included in the environmental impact report for the Museum House project by Related California Urban Housing LLC.

“Related is well known both for its selection of highly regarded architects as well as for its constructive engagement with the communities involved,” said Todd Smith, director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art.

The funds raised from the sale of the property have been earmarked for the construction of the museum’s new facility at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus in Costa Mesa.

The condominium tower, which would include 100 for-sale units, would be about 295 feet tall, the same height as the new office towers at 520 and 650 Newport Center Drive.

Related’s proposal includes 200 resident and 38 guest parking spaces, which would be provided in two levels underground. The company wants to start demolishing the museum’s existing 23,000-square foot building in January 2018. Construction is expected to last from March 2018 to May 2020.

The project would require amendments to the general plan to change the land use from private institutional to multi-unit residential, and allow a 300-foot building height limit in the San Joaquin Hills Planned Community Development Plan.

Among the potentially significant impacts identified by the city’s environmental consultant is the obstruction of views from surrounding offices, residence and drivers on nearby roads. The impact of more cars traveling from the tower on MacArthur Boulevard and the 73 Freeway would need to be studied.

The block that would host the condominium tower has been undergoing a transition from office to residential use. The Irvine Company’s Villas Fashion Island on San Joaquin Hills Road near Jamboree Road is under construction north of the museum property.

Bill Lobdell, vice president of communications for the Irvine Company, declined to comment.

Councilman Keith Curry said the project deserves a thorough review by the Planning Commission and encouraged Related to work with community members before coming to City Council for approval.

“I think it makes sense for us to put residential development so people can walk to jobs, walk to restaurants, and walk to retail,” he said. “We should do it in a way that it is balanced to limit its impact on the community.”

Monday’s scoping meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Civic Center Community Room at 100 Civic Center Drive.

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