The owner of a 9.4-acre project on Mariners’ Mile unveiled the latest design to develop a mixed-use project on largely unimproved land during a community meeting on Monday.
Manouch Moshayedi, CEO of MX3 Ventures, described a three-phase project in the 2000 and 2200 blocks of West Coast Highway, including 14 residential condominiums, a boat showroom, office space, and restaurant space south of PCH between A’maree’s and the German School campus.
The land north of West Coast Highway between the Holiday Inn and Novamar Insurance would be redeveloped with two-story buildings for 108 apartment units plus 128,640 square feet of office, vehicle showroom, and a parking structure north of West Coast Highway. The parking structure would have two levels above grade and one level below.
The design includes 950 linear feet of new public waterfront promenade and 827 parking spaces within at-grade and partially subterranean parking.
“Everyone has the right to build something on their property,” Moshayedi said. “If I build a one-story building its going to be in someone’s view.”
The northern development would be built 30 feet from his property line but couldn’t say exactly how much of the slope would need to be removed and replaced with a retaining wall, Moshayedi said. The project will be examined by geotechnical experts to prevent damage to foundations of homes uphill, he said.
In 2017, Moshayedi’s development company submitted an application for the development of 590,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.
The current 299,500-square-foot project is still unpalatable to residents of Cliff Drive and Kings Road, who say their views of Newport Harbor would be completely obstructed if the project is approved by the Newport Beach City Council and California Coastal Commission.
Bayshores resident Patrick Gormley said that the developer’s vision has evolved after talking with community members and that should be commended.
“It’s a very substantial project that will have a very dramatic impact on what Mariners’ Mile will become,” he said. “This is the most significant portion of land that is being considered for development along Mariners’ Mile.”
Although, as a number of residents expressed on Monday, there are still a number of concerns, Gormley noted, and they need to be addressed.
“It’s also clear that the developer, the coalition to protect Mariners’ Mile, and the community surrounding Mariners’ Mile want to reach a consensus with a win-win outcome,” Gormley said.
Moshayedi claimed that if the project were designed with just one-square-foot less, he would need to obtain a General Plan amendment, which is considered a heavy lift for most developers.
All of the residential units in the project would be sold or leased at market rates. State law allows developers to build denser projects, including up to a 35 percent increase in project densities, depending on the amount of affordable housing provided. Under these rules, the Newport Village project could be up to 50 feet tall.
“If we did that you would be crying, you would be shouting and these buildings would be in front of your living rooms,” Moshayedi said.
In 2015, Don Haskell, the influential owner of several land parcels along Mariners’ Mile, passed away. The following year, Moshayedi purchased properties hosting Ardell Yacht and Ship Brokers, Silver Seas Yachts, and Sun Country Marine.
City planners have since scrapped proposals to convert West Coast Highway into a six-lane highway with reconfigured traffic signals in Mariners’ Mile.
Councilman Duffy Duffield, whose council district includes Mariners’ Mile, would likely be conflicted out voting on the project. Duffield’s companies operate the Duffy Electric Boat Company Sales and Rentals office at 2001 W. Coast Hwy and the Duffy Care and Service yard at 2439 W Coast Hwy.
Councilman Brad Avery could have a potential conflict as director of the Orange Coast College School of Sailing & Seamanship at 1801 W. Coast Hwy.
Avery filed a letter with the city, arguing his employment doesn’t create a conflict of interest because it’s a government position, City Attorney Aaron Harp said. The city attorney’s office has not analyzed either council members’ potential conflicts.
Monday’s meeting took a particular icy turn when a homeowner asked Moshayedi’s attorney Sean Matsler if he and his neighbors would be compensated for depressed property values if they lose views their properties have enjoyed for more than 50 years.
Matsler was the primary attorney for the developer of the defunct Museum House project.
“One of the things we did in the last two years was we worked with some community leaders to come up with a design that was less modern and more in-keeping with the neighborhood,” Matsler said.
A draft environmental impact report is slated to be published in summer 2020. The public will have 45 days to review and submit comments that must be addressed in the final report. The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the report and proposed mitigation measures in fall 2020.