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Koll Center condos and Balboa Theater revamp are on Newport planners' agenda Thursday

Koll Center condos and Balboa Theater revamp are on Newport planners' agenda Thursday
A rendering shows the condominium towers of the Koll Center Residences proposed at Von Karman Avenue and Birch Street, near John Wayne Airport. (File Illustration)

In its first meeting of the year, the Newport Beach Planning Commission will hold a study session Thursday on the proposed Koll Center Residences condominium towers and consider issuing permits for a renovation of the landmark Balboa Theater.

The Koll Center Residences would group 260 luxury condominiums in three 13-story buildings at Von Karman Avenue and Birch Street, near John Wayne Airport. The project also would include 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a parking garage and a 1.17-acre public park.

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Representatives of the developer, Irvine-based Shopoff Realty Investments, have said the Koll Center Residences are unlike the controversial Museum House luxury condo tower that had been planned for Newport Center. The Newport Beach City Council revoked approvals for the 25-story, 100-unit Museum House last year after intense public backlash led to a petition drive that gathered enough signatures to force a referendum.

The city in 2010 approved a broad "integrated conceptual development plan" for about 1,500 homes, parks and some retail stores in the airport area. The plan brought about what is now Uptown Newport, also a Shopoff project, and the proposed Koll Center condo towers.

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But as they did with Museum House, opponents of Koll Center take issue with the project's density.

The return of Balboa Theater?
A rendering depicts a renovated Balboa Theater, with a rooftop deck.
A rendering depicts a renovated Balboa Theater, with a rooftop deck. (Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The long-shuttered, formerly city-owned Balboa Theater could be making a comeback on the Balboa Peninsula.

The historical theater's owner has submitted a proposal to renovate it as a performing arts and special events space, with a facade reconstruction — featuring storefront windows that open and a re-created marquee — plus a rooftop deck and a cafe with outdoor seating. The reimagined theater would have 264 seats; the original had 450.

The Balboa Theater, at 707 E. Balboa Blvd., was built in 1927 and operated into the 1990s. It closed in 1992, and the city bought it six years later for $480,000.

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Private fundraising in the early 2010s intended to renovate and reopen the theater did not pan out, and a 2014 city effort to turn it into a municipal-run fine-arts center also found little widespread support.

In 2016, the city sold the property for $1 million to Lab Holding LLC, known for developing the Camp and the Lab shopping areas in Costa Mesa.

Gas station expansion

Also on Thursday, the commission will resume its consideration of a proposed expansion of the 76 gas station and convenience store at 1461 Superior Ave. The item went before commissioners in November, but they put off a decision amid concerns about building height, hours of operation and the possible addition of alcohol sales.

The owners proposed to replace the single-story, 648-square-foot store with a two-story, 4,416-square-foot store that would include a Subway sandwich shop. The second floor would be a storage and office area. The building's height would be 32 feet.

The facility also would sell beer and wine. The single-bay car wash and 12 gas pumps would be unchanged.

Thursday's meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

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