City Council OKs West Newport proposal

NEWPORT BEACH — It's not quite the $130-million Civic Center being built across town, but a proposal endorsed by the City Council on Tuesday could bring a new Police Department headquarters, community center and green space to the city's west side.

The development would preserve "a significant civic presence in West Newport," said Councilman Steve Rosansky.

As officials plan to vacate the current City Hall property, they inventoried public facilities on the west side. Municipal Operations officials determined they could consolidate their facilities into one of two city-owned lots near Superior Avenue.

That would potentially free up an 8-acre parcel between Newport Boulevard and Superior, and south of Industrial Way. The property is wedged between Hoag Hospital medical building parking lots, industrial properties and a Carl's Jr.

Public Works Director Steve Badum showed a rough sketch of plans at Tuesday's study session.

They include a roughly 64,000-square-foot police headquarters, a community center similar to the one in Newport Coast, and open space for public art and events. The community center would have a full-size gym, a fitness center and meeting rooms.

Council members appeared pleased, and agreed that the new center would fulfill West Newport's needs.

Because the plans affected the current City Hall site, which could be vacated next year, Mayor Mike Henn said this project should be a priority.

"We need to move this process forward rapidly," he said. "I see this as the next big deal here in this city that we need to have rolling well along, on the heels of the Civic Center."

The new police headquarters would replace the one on Santa Barbara Drive near Fashion Island. That property, which needs seismic improvements, could then be converted into a "perpetual revenue stream," said Councilman Rush Hill, although no revenue proposals were offered.

The plan would also seek to convert an existing community center on West 15th Street into an income-producing property. Badum said the city still needed to perform a financial analysis, and he hoped that the income opportunities could pay for the new community center.

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