New event center approved for Westside Costa Mesa

A new event and banquet center is coming to Westside Costa Mesa following a Planning Commission decision Monday night.

On a 4-0 vote, with member Carla Navarro Woods absent, the commission signed off on a plan for the facility, called The Harper, to open in an existing 6,461-square-foot building at 1618 Ohms Way.

The decision is final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.

Commissioners said they believe The Harper will enhance the area.

“I think we want to see some vibrancy and development in the Westside and this would be a good addition to that,” Commissioner Jeffrey Harlan said.

The venue will be part of Hospitality Collaborative, a catering and event consortium that includes an upscale venue in Los Angeles called The Fig House.

“We are so excited about opening our next venue here in Costa Mesa,” said Steve Fortunato, owner and founder of Hospitality Collaborative. “We have a client base here in Orange County that we’ve been servicing with our catering companies for a very long time.”

The Harper will be available for private parties and events, weddings, receptions, exhibitions and corporate gatherings.

One issue raised during Monday’s hearing was parking. Per city codes, a venue the size of The Harper requires 86 parking spaces. However, there are only 15 at 1618 Ohms.

To meet the requirement, Hospitality Collaborative will tap into shared parking at 729 and 1626 Ohms Way and 1609 Pomona Ave. and use valet services.

When businesses at the other properties are open, The Harper will be able to host only smaller-scale events for which auxiliary parking spaces are not needed.

“What I’m hoping is that the conditions of approval provide enough of an enforcement mechanism so that we can mitigate any … parking problems,” said commission Chairman Stephan Andranian.

Fortunato said his experience with The Fig House indicates that many patrons of The Harper will use ride-sharing services, helping to lessen parking demand.

Other area businesses will help with enforcement if parking becomes an issue, he added.

“We all know that if I have an event that has 100 cars at 1 o’clock in the middle of the day, my neighbors are going to be calling the city in seconds,” he said.

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