The Plant commercial-residential project to take root in Costa Mesa after council gives OK


“Parking” was the word of the night at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night, but proposals for the Plant, a commercial-residential development in the Sobeca District, and a building expansion for a new restaurant on Newport Boulevard won council approval anyway.

The Plant can take root in Costa Mesa following a 6-1 council vote and more than a year of back-and-forth between city panels. Councilman Allan Mansoor cast the dissenting vote because of his lingering concerns that the project’s parking would be insufficient and traffic would double once the development arrives.

The plan envisions 62 new housing units — including 14 live/work spaces — plus office, retail and dining areas on roughly two acres at Baker Street and Century Place. The project includes 243 parking spaces.

Council members spoke of how the Plant would round out developer Shaheen Sadeghi’s plans for the Sobeca District, where he also owns the Lab and the Camp shopping areas.

“One beautiful art form is architecture, and I think this project will not only be practical and provide housing and a great place for the community to gather, but it is also going to be a beautiful place and it’s going to highlight wonderful architecture that we’re going to be proud of,” Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens said.

Though the proposal was approved handily Tuesday, it ran into a roadblock last year when the council denied it because of concerns of insufficient parking. Since then, the council relaxed its parking requirements, paving the way for the Plant.

Councilwoman Sandy Genis asked for another look at the project — which the city Planning Commission approved for the second time in July — because of an “ambiguity” with how the lots were configured. Per Genis’ request, city staff added a memorandum to the proposal so that the lots where the Plant will sit will remain linked and cannot be sold separately.

New restaurant to replace the Hub

A new restaurant won approval to move in on Newport Boulevard, despite parking concerns from neighboring businesses and residents.

The restaurant, which has not yet been named, is expected to give life to the hulking building that once housed the Hub Kitchen and Taps. Plans include expanding into the empty storefront adjacent to the building, revitalizing the outdoor patio and adding live music options.

The new restaurant will be at 1749 and 1763 Newport Blvd. The Hub was at 1749.

Domenico Grillo, chef and general manager of Quattro Cafe at South Coast Plaza, will lead the new kitchen, which he envisions as a place for fine dining and good music.

The restaurant team requested a variance to provide 14 parking spaces instead of the 27 required by city code. The council added a provision for a bike rack to help relieve some of the parking pressure on the tight area.

The parking issue was the chief concern for the dozen people who spoke about the project Tuesday.

Anthony Karambellas, general manager of the nearby Cyclist bike shop, said he spends most of his time at the shop and that “there is zero parking at all.”

“You open another business on top of that and it’s mayhem,” Karambellas said. “We’re asking for a disaster.”

A few nearby residents were more concerned about the prospect of live music at night, though Grillo assured them it would not be imposing. To that end, the council added a provision prohibiting any music with loud bass, such as electronic or house music, and limited the hours for live music to end at midnight on weekends and 10 p.m. weekdays.

“I’m talking about Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin,” Grillo said. “If that is bad music, I don’t know what to tell you.”

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