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26-story condo tower proposed to replace O.C. Museum of Art in Newport

A real estate developer is seeking approval from Newport Beach to build a 26-story condominium tower on the current site of the Orange County Museum of Art.

Related California Urban Housing LLC's proposal includes demolishing the single-story museum in Newport Center to make way for Museum House, which would include 100 condos and a two-level subterranean garage.

The tower would be about 295 feet tall, with an additional 20 feet for equipment, plans show.

The proposed height is comparable with other towers in Newport Center, according to city Community Development Director Kim Brandt. The building height limit for the area is 300 feet.

The proposal points to changes ahead for OCMA, which has called the 2-acre site at 850 San Clemente Drive home since 1977. Through the years, the museum has contemplated expanding its footprint in Newport Beach.

In 1997, the museum completed a modest expansion, taking over a library building next door. However, it still lacked gallery space to show its permanent collection.

Most recently, OCMA announced that it plans to move to Costa Mesa on 1.64 acres near the Segerstrom Center for the Arts that was donated by the Segerstrom family years earlier. 

It is unclear whether the land at Newport Center has already been sold to the developer. Representatives of OCMA and Related California Urban Housing did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

For the project to move forward, Newport Beach city leaders would have to approve a general plan amendment to change the land use from private institutional to multiunit residential, with a maximum development limit of 100 units. The project is subject to consideration by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Of the 100 units proposed, 47 would have two bedrooms and three bathrooms and 53 would have three bedrooms and four bathrooms. The units are expected to range from 1,750 square feet to 4,950 square feet. Many would feature private balconies.

Initial designs feature a common area with a club room, library, view deck and concierge. Level 3 would have additional common space, including a garden and grilling terrace, a fitness and spa area, a pool and deck with a fireplace, an outdoor kitchen and a barbecue area. An outdoor roof terrace also is planned.

In the next several months, the city will complete an environmental impact report to address the project's potential effects on the surrounding area. An environmental checklist completed for the development indicates it could significantly impact views, air quality, noise and traffic.

The city will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the Community Room at 100 Civic Center Drive to receive comments about what should be addressed in the environmental report.

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