Marina development plans wrapping up

Etco Homes Inc. a development company based in Beverly Hills, is finalizing plans to build a 36,000 square-foot commercial, retail and residential mixed-use development at the site of the Newport Bay Marina, the former location of the historic World War II shipyard that was heralded for its war efforts in creating military minesweepers.

Afshin Etebar, president of Etco, said the firm is waiting for building permits and is in the final stages of approvals from the city, which could come possibly as soon as the next couple weeks.

Once given the thumbs-up, Etebar said Etco will start construction almost immediately and the project should take about two years to complete.

Such developments aren't foreign to the Balboa Peninsula, which features multiple mixed-use developments, such as McFadden Square, which accommodates residential, commercial and retail spaces.

However, Etebar said, his is a unique project.

"This is one of the most interesting projects Newport Beach has seen in a while, or might ever see, for that matter," he said. "It offers bayfront living, along with commercial and retail nearby."

Newport Beach Planning Director Jim Campbell agreed, saying, "It's one of the most significant mixed-development projects we've seen in several years."

The residential component will feature 27 condominiums, some with ocean views and others with views of the peninsula and McFadden Square. Another building will house seven, two-story townhomes, which all have bay and ocean views from the second floor.

"We're hoping to get one or two high-end restaurants in the project as well," Etebar said.

The commercial marina will feature 21 boat slips and a temporary docking area that can fit up to 12 Duffy-size boats.

The city, which approved the project in 2006, believes the upcoming project is a good indicator of Newport Beach's resilient economy.

"It's a sign of improved times to come," Campbell said. "We're seeing the renovation of the shopping center across the street and we're re-planning the village area. We have high hopes for the future."

The city is preparing for the disruption and traffic that will be created with the new construction project that is located right where Newport and Balboa boulevards intersect; they are the only two streets that connect the peninsula to the mainland.

"The city has renewed and approved a comprehensive construction, traffic, and parking management plan to avert the conflicts as much as possible," Campbell said.

He also mentioned they will start construction in phases and there will be flagmen on site.

For those wondering about the historic significance of the site, Campbell noted that the city wants to commemorate the work done there more than 50 years ago.

"The contribution of the shipyard to the overall war effort was recognized by the Navy and the Army after World War II," he said. "They're going to have a monument of a minesweeper with historical storyboards that will tell the story of the shipyard. This is our link to the past that we've been able to incorporate into the project."

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