Newport Beach waterfront site of several new developments

Newport Beach waterfront site of several new developments
Workers dismantle the Reuben E. Lee in Newport Bay in 2007. The site will be home to a proposed marina development. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Newport Beach waterfront could see several new developments — including new boat slips, dock, community center and Girls Scouts' facility — in the coming years, provided state coastal regulators give the OK.

The Balboa Marina West project, proposed for land on East Coast Highway between Bayside Drive and the Coast Highway bridge, would add eight public boat slips, relocate four others and expand the private Balboa Marina by 24 slips.



Newport Beach waterfront: An article in the Nov. 19 California section about proposed development along the Newport Beach waterfront referred to the Reuben E. Lee, which housed a restaurant and a nautical museum, as a smokestack riverboat. It was a building that looked like a riverboat. —


The project, which is expected to be completed by 2016, would include a 19,400-square-foot building that could be used as restaurant space, according to city documents.

Once the project is completed, the city would operate the public dock, which harbor commissioners recently said would increase public access to the harbor.

The west side of the marina was once home to the Reuben E. Lee, a smokestack riverboat that housed a restaurant and then a nautical museum before it was demolished in 2008.

The Irvine Co., which owns the space, has been working to expand the marina ever since.

The project will probably go before the California Coastal Commission in 2015. The commission would have to sign off on a coastal development permit before construction could begin.

The Balboa Marina West development was one of several projects discussed during a special Harbor Commission meeting late last week.

Commissioners reviewed a variety of upgrades in the harbor, including improvements to the 19th Street and M Street piers, development of Marina Park and the Lower Castaways, and their goal to remove derelict vessels.

"I can't recall a time when there were more projects going on in the harbor," Commission Chairman Brad Avery said. "It's a very exciting time."

Newport Beach expects the $38.3-million Marina Park development to be open in spring 2016.

It will include a short-term slip marina with 23 spaces, a sailing and community center, and a new Girl Scout Leadership Center.

The park will allow boaters to dock for 30 days in the West Newport marina, providing greater access to restaurants and other peninsula businesses, commissioners said.


Moving forward with the development of Lower Castaways, a four-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Dover Drive and East Coast Highway, is another Harbor Commission priority.

The land, given to the city by the Irvine Co. in 2008 in exchange for separate development rights, is being reconceived as a hub for bikers and hikers who use the trails surrounding the area.

The portion closest to the water probably can't be developed because it's in a marine area protected by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Though the city has concepts of how Lower Castaways could look, it will probably be years before the plans fully take shape, commissioners said.

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