Newport Center Gets Ready for Palmy Days

A $4-million landscaping project, incorporating hundreds of palm trees framed by flowering hedges, is under way at Newport Center, part of a $60-million upgrading of the 20-year-old Fashion Island retail complex in Newport Beach.

According to Roger M. Seitz, vice president of urban design at the Irvine Co., the effort is the largest single landscaping project ever undertaken by the firm. It involves 800 mature palm trees--up to 35 feet high--planted along the 600-acre mixed-use center's 2 1/2 miles of roadway.

The work will begin with the planting of Mexican fan palms in place of small sycamores and poplars now lining Newport Center Drive. Hedges of bougainvilleas and white oleander will be planted between the trees and in the center's parkways.

The centerpiece of the Fashion Island renovation will be the Atrium Court, a multilevel indoor mall on the former site of the J. C. Penney store. The court will have the Irvine Ranch Market as a principal tenant. Assisting the company's design team in the renewal project are the SWA Group of Laguna Beach and Follis Design of Los Angeles.

"We plan to have most of the new landscaping completed in time for the Atrium Court's scheduled opening in April," Seitz said. "We think the timing is appropriate because both projects reinforce the new Mediterranean theme we're creating for Newport Center."

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