The new owner of the John Blom photography studio building at 3732 E. Coast Hwy. has painted over a mural on the side of the structure and plans to add a “living wall” that will be covered in succulents that form a design.
The mural depicted pelicans holding waving pictures of seascapes and a church, floating in a blue, cloud-filled sky.
Blom returned from vacation to see the mural was gone, but he said it was the new owner’s right to paint over it.
“It was good while it lasted,” he said.
Blom recently sold the building and is closing his studio, but he’ll continue to work with clients on locations.
Bryan Seigel, 55, of Newport Coast, bought the building and has already begun making changes, he said in a telephone interview this week.
“The transformation will be beautiful,” he said. “I want it to be very special. It’ll have shimmering lights, an atrium with a water feature … You’ll take a second look. It’ll be just quaint.”
The front of the building will have a brick facade with arched windows, he said.
The building will be divided into space for two businesses, one of which could be a high-end dessert business that is in negotiations for a lease.
“I’ve had a lot of inquiries,” he said.
Siegel said he sees Corona del Mar as a “diamond in the rough” with many commercial buildings that need updating. With a background in fashion accessory design, he specializes now in taking commercial properties and updating them.
“I’m trying to bring new blood to Corona del Mar,” he said. “It’s going to stop traffic. It’ll be a show-stopper. My goal is to put a new face on Corona del Mar. They’ll like it. Corona del Mar residents don’t want another bank.”
Civic Center opening closer
If everything goes as planned — and so far, everything is — the Newport Beach City Council could hold its December meeting in the new Civic Center, Councilman Ed Selich said Thursday.
“They say it will be open in December for the first council meeting, and I believed them,” Selich told the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. board at its monthly meeting at the OASIS Senior Center.
The new Civic Center broke ground in May 2010 on Avocado Avenue. The project will include a new City Hall, a 450-space parking structure, a 17,000-square-foot expansion of the Newport Beach Central Library, a 16-acre park including a dog park and 1.23 miles of walking and viewing trails.
The total costs is $128 million, according to a city web page.
The council has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 11, the only meeting on the December calendar.
Selich said after that meeting, the building would be left for about a month “to de-bug it.”
“To make sure you don’t turn a light switch on, and then the air condition comes on in the other side of the building,” he said.
By mid-summer, he added, construction should have progressed enough to know if the opening date is realistic.
Curry gets another parks term
Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry has been reelected to a four-year term on the Orange County Parks Commission.
He was elected to represent coastal cities by the Orange County City Selection Committee, which is comprised of the mayors of each city in the county. Curry is serving as commission chairman.
“I appreciate the confidence of my fellow council members, and I look forward to continuing to work for additional park and open space opportunities in Orange County,” Curry wrote in an email.
The Orange County Parks Commission advises the Orange County Board of Supervisors on parks and recreation issues.
New Port Theater cafe closes
For a few days, Corona del Mar had a new cafe when the New Port Theater opened its doors in the mornings to serve pastries and coffee drinks.
But the problem was no movie was playing, making the cafe a violation of the theater’s permit.
“The Port is a theater and food can be served in conjunction with films but not by itself,” Mayor Nancy Gardner wrote in an email. “It cannot be a coffee house.”
Newport Beach officials became aware of the illegal cafe after someone complained, and city staff contacted the owner to explain, said city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.
“The coffee use needs to be ancillary to the theater use,” she wrote in an email. A staff member “contacted the owner last week and intends to meet and work with him. Their discussion, of course, will center on why the coffee service needs to be operated in conjunction with the theater, applicable code provisions, etc.”
A resident on Heliotrope Avenue, who did not give his name, said he was concerned when he saw the cafe because of parking problems in the area.
“I know that the Port Theater is grandfathered in as a theater and does not have a parking requirement,” the resident wrote in an email to city officials. “Living on Heliotrope we already face a space crunch … Add the retail in the area and we have a real issue. It would seem to me that this should have had to go to the Planning Commission where public comment would have been allowed before a new use for the Port Theater could be established.”
This is not the first time a resident’s complaint led to city officials cracking down on Corona del Mar coffee shops. Last summer, a resident complained that Starbucks had more than the 21 seats its permit allowed. A city inspector investigated, and seats were removed.