Newport Harbor Yacht Club look to replace clubhouse

Newport Beach's oldest yacht club is planning to replace its 1919 clubhouse with a larger, modernized building.

The Newport Harbor Yacht Club applied for city permits last month that would allow it to exceed the bayfront height limitation and construct a new building with a second-story ballroom.

The current clubhouse at 720 West Bay Ave. often floods when storms and high tides inundate the Balboa Peninsula, and the old wooden structure is more vulnerable to earthquakes and fires than its proposed replacement.

Building codes would require modern materials and a new floor at 9 feet above average sea level, perhaps preserving the building for the club's second century.

Newport Beach Historical Society President Gordy Grundy said that the clubhouse has served an important purpose, but that there is nothing historically significant about that building.

"I just don't think the city's losing anything," he said.

The new clubhouse would keep the same look and feel, with its primary walls made from white painted siding and sloped roofs covered in asphalt shingles.

It would be 23,163 square feet and would fit in the same footprint of the existing building, which is 20,500 square feet.

The general plan caps development there at 20,000 square feet, so the club has applied for a general plan amendment.

Also, the city limits waterfront buildings to 31 feet, and the new clubhouse would reach 36 feet in a small rooftop area. The club is asking for an exception.

Newport Harbor Yacht Club was founded in 1916, when the city and county were planning to dredge the harbor's many sandbars and improve its entrance.

After beginning in a nearby home, the club moved to its current building in 1919. It has been remodeled and enlarged, but never replaced.

As the application is in its early stages, the Planning Commission may not review the project for months.

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