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Golf course and hotel plan gets county’s go-ahead for former Newport Beach landfill

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Vegetation including coastal sage scrub planted about 20 years ago grows on the former site of the Coyote Canyon landfill in Newport Beach.
(File Photo)

A proposed golf course and hotel on the former site of the Coyote Canyon landfill in Newport Beach could generate $52 million for Orange County over 75 years, according to an agreement approved by the Board of Supervisors last week.

Tait Development’s vision for the county-owned land in Newport Coast includes a public 18-hole course with amenities such as a driving range, four-star restaurant, banquet and meeting facility and boutique hotel and spa.

The supervisors, with little discussion, voted unanimously Oct. 8 to approve a 75-year lease agreement for Santa Ana-based Tait and gave it the go-ahead to conduct preliminary assessments and planning, which includes working with the city of Newport Beach to rezone the area.

The landfill operated between 1963 and 1990. The spot is now an expanse of coastal sage scrub off Newport Coast Drive just west of the 73 Toll Road.

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OC Waste & Recycling maintains the site, with air and water monitoring.

Tait Development, run by former Anaheim mayor Tom Tait, is the second developer to take a swing at a golf course plan for the site. The county selected Chapman Investment Co. in 2017 to begin negotiating a lease agreement to develop the course on about 200 of the former dump’s 395 acres and named Tait as an alternate.

Chapman pulled out last year. A county representative did not respond Tuesday to a request for details about the firm’s withdrawal.

Chapman’s proposal included an 18-hole course with a double-ended, double-decker driving range, instruction via the PGA Tour Golf Academy, a clubhouse, ballrooms and wedding gardens and a food court with a patio.

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Tait has up to nine years to complete feasibility studies and land-use entitlements. The company estimated it will spend $38 million on planning, design and construction.

The plan comes as public golf on Orange County-owned land is contracting.

The county has been collecting feedback this year on how to repurpose one of the three courses at Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley after the course’s operator fell behind $3.6 million on its rent in the face of a cooling golf industry. The move to reabsorb 93 centrally located acres known as the Players Course has led to suggestions ranging from open pathways and a nature center to lawn bowling and pickleball, though avid golfers continue to defend the course.

The county agreed to cancel the rent debt by taking back the acreage occupied by the Players Course. The course is still open, and the operator, Mile Square Golf Course LP, has until January 2021 to return the land.

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