Lido House Hotel went through one “hoop” and received unanimous approval for a larger project last week.
Newport Beach Planning Commission voted 7-0 for a 4,745 square-foot expansion on the 130-room boutique hotel planned for the old city hall site at 3300 Newport Boulevard. It is a 4.8 percent increase to the maximum floor area.
Amendments to the general plan, coastal land use plan, and zoning code, would increase the total gross floor area for the site, currently limited to 98,725 square feet, to 103,470 gross square feet.
The expansion still needs to be approved by City Council and the California Coastal Commission.
“The overall site plan is, basically, almost identical to the plan approved by the Coastal Commission and the City Council,” said the city’s Principal Planner James Campbell.
The additional floor area would permit increased public spaces and “back of house” areas and does not increase the number of rooms or meeting space, according to city staff.
“With the refinements and improvements of the interior design in addition to the minimal impact to exterior architecture, we believe that a superior product and service and will be offered,” said Vice President of Planning for R.D. Olson Development, Anthony Wrzosek.
Approximately 90 percent of this area is already under roof, confirmed Associate Vice President of WATG, Greg Villegas. The architecture will not be impacted
The changes include: Enclosure of an exterior pre-function space in front of the ballroom with the actual ballroom space decreasing by 925 square feet; Expansion of the lobby by pushing the entry doors out at both the north and south sides to enhance circulation space; Expansion of the hotel management office areas to meet management needs; Enlargement of the spa sitting area to create a more generous relaxation space; Enlargement of “back of house” areas for improved circulation and storage; Enlargement of two king guestrooms into king suites located on the second floor with no increase in the number of total guestrooms; Increase to the proposed ancillary retail area by 191 square feet and a 5 square-foot increase to the proposed restaurant.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re even here tonight because these are fairly minor items that are being requested,” said Planning Commission Chairman Kory Kramer. “But we have to go through the major hoops in order to get there.”
Newport Beach resident Jim Mosher also questioned why the item was before the commission, but for very different reasons.
“I, too, am wondering why we’re here,” Mosher said. “The developer here has known for a long time what their limit was and I would have thought they would have planned prudently to be just a little bit below the maximum that they could go to so they could avoid being here at all tonight.”
Staff concluded that the first level would be increased by 4,091 square feet and the second level would be increased by 654 square feet.
No other changes would be made. The height of the expanded hotel would not change, the staff report confirms.
City staff hopes the process won’t delay construction of the project. The original goal was to open in summer 2017.
“So what happened here?” Kramer questioned. “Did the applicant, over a period of time, increase the size and realized, ‘Hey I need more space, so we need to go back to the drawing board’?”
Campbell noted that they were probably going through the process and trying to fit everything as best they can, while still providing the space they need in order to have an efficient operation, and concluded that they needed more space.
The developer wouldn’t want to go back in front of the Coastal Commission unless they thought they really needed to do so, resident George Schroeder pointed out.
Several letters written to the city supported the expansion, noting that it will improve the functionality of the hotel and that the hotel (overall) will help revitalize the area.
Other letters raised concerns about more development, water usage and traffic, and the possibility that the project is inconsistent and violates Greenlight.
“Aren’t we going a bit haywire on building in Newport Beach?” asked Newport Beach resident Violet Lorenzen in a letter to the city. All the “massive building” in town is too much, she wrote.
“To date, R.D. Olson is extremely pleased with the evolution of the interior design for our proposed hotel,” Wrzosek said.
Lido House will be a “four-diamond destination resort,” he said. At the moment, Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand is proposed to manage the hotel, Wrzosek confirmed.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the hotel was held on Wednesday.