The Best Solution for the Old City Hall Site?

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Now that the city has relocated to the new City Hall near Fashion Island, it’s time to make decisions regarding how to develop the old four acre property on Newport Blvd. 

I attended the study session where three proposals to redevelop the site were presented to the Council and the community. 

Two of the proposals are for boutique hotels and one is for mixed-use retail and 99 apartments complex. The decision should be an easy one if the Council looks at the same factors that went into their decision-making regarding the new City Hall. 

They determined that the New City Hall needed to be large, cost in excess of what voters approved, and that maintenance of the large building complex was not a consideration given all the services that are provided from this huge governmental operations center.

Time will tell whether they made the best decision for our community but one thing that is for sure in the decision, cost was not the driving factor in building it. If anything says government is important and makes a statement, it is truly our new city hall. 

With that premise in mind, we as a community and city should be able to look at the old city hall site as a place that needs to be developed not simply based on the revenue it generates, but what is going to benefit the local community most as well as visitors to our city.

Reading the General Plan five years ago helped me analyze how data can help us make the best decisions for each of our seven villages in Newport Beach. Living on the Westside of town also informs my rationale for why I will lay out a case for the hotel choice for the site rather than the mixed-use residential units. 

Approximately 60 percent of the West Side  (meaning the Lido Village and the Peninsula) is currently rental properties. We have plenty of options for people who want to rent apartments, town homes, or houses. We are not suffering from a lack of housing nor do we need to encourage more rental properties. 

While there are many excellent residents renting in our community, there are also many residents who are short term, young, and always ready to party. It is harder to control how properties are cared for in a community, which has that high number of non-occupied owners. 

This property is the gateway to the Peninsula and Lido Village. This area has been in decay for a long time and does not emulate the same characteristics of beauty and function that has been developed recently in the other villages as well as our new City Hall. 

It is time to put this into perspective and take the one opportunity that is here to begin revitalizing this special area. A Boutique Hotel property built to high standards of luxury and created for community use as well as visitors is a perfect match for the needs of this part of the city. 

A luxury hotel provides access to all residents for eating and dining, a place to gather on a rooftop, spa facilities, and rooms for family or guests from out of the area, courtyards, and beautiful landscaping and buildings to view as you enter and leave the Peninsula.  Gone will be the old portables housing city services. We also do not have a luxury hotel on this side of the city. It would inspire community interaction by increasing business for local coffee houses, restaurants, and businesses that have lost revenue that was supported by the many city workers who used to go to them at lunch and during the day for a quick break from work.  The hotel concept becomes an anchor that encourages new business and supports established business in the area. 

It could become the necessary anchor that begins a long over due revitalization of this wonderful beach area. We have only one time to make a decision that will provide a financial anchor for new and old local businesses, bring in a steady stream of revenue for the city, and be a structure that all the citizens of Newport Beach can be proud to pass by and use. 

The citizens who gave their opinions at the study session support and embrace the hotel concept over the residential complex. They also see that in this instance this is the best option for development for the city as well as a wise financial decision, which has a lasting impact on the community and substantially increases city revenue.

However, the dollar is not always the bottom line to be considered in decisions. If that were true we all would be driving the smallest cheapest car, living in the tiniest house possible, rarely buy clothes, eat at home all the time, and recycle everything. 

But we’d all like to have the choice to decide the quality, quantity, and size of our house, car, family, and government we want. Lets allow this village to have the grandeur and stature of the new city hall by choosing a hotel complex that will bring that feeling back to the Peninsula. 

I encourage our city leaders to consider the best use of this property through multiple perspectives because we only get to make the decision once and will live with it through many generations beyond our life span. 

That is My Take,

Gloria J. Alkire

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  1. Fantastic “take” Gloria.

    I agree with you on all counts…hopefully our city leaders will take as much time and effort in providing the best use for our community as they have done for their own “community” (City Hall).

    The Lido / Peninsula area brings in three times as many visitors than any other part of Newport…we have the BEACH, the one thing that no other part of Newport (except for Corona Del Mar) provides…this is the DESTINATION of millions of visitors and it should reflect that kind of attention.

    Are you listening to the community council members? I hope so, we could not be more vocal or more clear on our choice for OUR land…a Upscale Boutique Hotel”.