Council OKs early plans for City Hall site

NEWPORT BEACH — Setting the stage for the renovation of Lido Marina Village and the reuse of the current City Hall site, the Newport Beach City Council approved a preliminary plan Tuesday that calls for market-rate housing, a community center and a public plaza at the site.

It also envisions a lively Lido Village with a boutique hotel, new retail development and condominiums.

The plan was a culmination of a months-long process by the city and nearby property owners. They seek to renovate 17 acres near the entrance to the Balboa Peninsula, which now has vacancies in its retail buildings and a soon-vacating city government.

"This is basically planting a flag of the major elements that will be on the City Hall site," said Mayor Mike Henn, who represents the area that includes Lido Village.

Most of the discussion concerned a proposed community center, and whether it would be appropriate at that site. The city already has a community center on 15th Street near Superior Avenue and a planned center at the Marina Park development, which is on the Balboa Peninsula.

City Manager Dave Kiff recommended a roughly 15,000-square-foot center with a gymnasium.

Todd Larner of William Hezmalhalch Architects presented drawings for the "Lido Village Center." It included meeting rooms overlooking a public plaza.

Some residents expressed concern that the city's drug and alcohol rehabilitation operators would use the meeting facilities, and that they would hurt the area's economic viability.

Others said the city needed to slow the process down and shouldn't make any final decisions. Henn reiterated that the plans were preliminary, and they will likely evolve.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime project to create a destination resort atmosphere," said Craig Batley, president of the West Newport Beach Assn.

In other matters, the council approved a $260,000 increase in the city attorney's budget and passed an ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor to scavenge through individuals' trash cans on private property.

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