New Dunes owners say no hotel in future

June Casagrande

Though they'll never say "never," the new owners of the Newport

Dunes say it's not very likely they will build a 275-room hotel on

the site.

"We have gone into the transaction happy to run the property as is

for the time being," said Michael Gelfand, president of Terra Vista

Management, which along with Goldrich & Kest Industries bought the

Dunes on Aug. 1 for about $25.5 million. "I suppose there's a

possibility that the hotel option could be considered, but it's not

in our plans right now."

The owners have the right to build the already-approved 275-room

family-style inn on the site if they choose. Previous owner Evans

Hotel Co. had sought to build a 581,000-square-foot, 470-room hotel

and conference center. But when the city's Greenlight Initiative

became law, requiring voter approval for some projects this size,

Evans representatives decided they would abandon their unpopular


Community opposition to building a hotel there is just one factor

that the new owners took into consideration when deciding what to do

with their new property. A bigger factor, though, is that the two

companies are experienced in the Dunes' current business: boat slip

rentals, vacation RV spaces and other marine recreational uses.

Co-owner Goldrich & Kest Industries, based in Culver City, already

operates several thousand boat slips in Southern California. Terra

Vista Management operates the 600-space RV park Campland on the Bay

in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. Also, the company has operated

DeAnza Bayside Village Mobile Homepark in Newport Beach, near the

Dunes site for 25 years.

Plus, Gelfand said, the Dunes is already profitable. The companies

are looking into ways to improve on the business, including expanding

its banquet operations, adding more RV spaces or possibly offering

stacked boat storage there. But no plans are definite.

"We are aware of the fact that the prior owners stirred up some

controversy and some ill will regarding their proposed larger hotel

and we just want to let the general community know that we intend to

be good neighbors and work with them and solicit their input,

concerns hopes and dreams before we make any decisions about the

future," Gelfand said.

In a move designed to please neighbors, the companies hope to

resume Fourth of July fireworks at the Dunes, perhaps as early as

next year. Evans Hotel Co. stopped the longtime tradition of

fireworks last year, saying that the liability had become too costly.

Embers from the fireworks burned fabric covers of some private boat

owners, causing them to file claims.

Gelfand said he's confident that the new owners can find ways to

prevent such costly damage.

"We don't see a big liability there," he said.

City Councilman Steve Bromberg, whose district includes the Dunes,

said he's pleased that the new owners have demonstrated an interest

in community input.

"It sounds like they want to be good neighbors," Bromberg said.

"And that's good news."

* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.

She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at

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