Newport council to re-examine uses for City Hall site

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Newport Beach City Council will take another look at reuse options for the current City Hall site, gather public input on a Balboa Village revitalization plan and address concerns about nonemergency flyovers.

At its last meeting, the council unexpectedly opened up the possibility of building a hotel on the roughly 4-acre City Hall parcel at 32nd Street and Newport Boulevard. City operations plan to vacate the site and move to the new Civic Center near Fashion Island once construction is complete in a couple months.

Prior to a Sept. 11 study session, discussion had largely centered on developing an apartment complex at the publicly owned parcel, although neighbors had pushed for a hotel.

The council is expected to consider what City Manager Dave Kiff called a "dual track" Request for Qualifications, which would allow developers to submit plans for either a 120-room hotel or a 99-unit apartment complex, or some combination of the two.

Preliminary financial analyses of the two alternatives say that a hotel could generate huge hotel bed tax and sales tax revenue, while the apartment option would increase the site's land value, meaning more annual rent would go directly to the city.

Officials hope that however the site is used, residents and tourists will help boost a Lido Village revitalization.

Balboa Village's revitalization, meanwhile, is expected to move forward with a public hearing on the city's Balboa Village Implementation Plan. The plan lays out a "brand promise statement" for the area, as well as recommended parking management strategies and business mixes for economic development. The report also proposes that "Balboa Village Fun Zone" be used as a brand name for the entire village, as opposed to just the Fun Zone, to which it applies now.

In other business, the council will consider whether to pursue a municipal code requiring that the city be notified in advance of any military flyover. The item was added to the agenda in response to a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration explaining that cities can "regulate or restrict" military flyovers if they enact ordinances to that effect.

In March, a flyover for a World War II Marine's funeral caused a stir when city agencies couldn't answer questions about the loud noise; they hadn't been told in advance that fighter jets would be flying over Newport as low as 1,000 feet.

The council is also expected to ask city staff to explore possible rules for paddleboarders.

The meeting — which Kiff said in a newsletter is the first of just five remaining meetings at 3300 Newport Blvd. — will start at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @jillcowan

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