Newport to seek state OK for new pier restaurant

Plans for a new restaurant at the tip of the Newport Pier took a step forward Tuesday night.

The Newport Beach City Council, with a unanimous vote and no discussion, approved a motion that allows city staff to submit a development application to the California Coastal Commission.

City officials are seeking the state panel’s permission to demolish a 1940s-era restaurant building at the end of the city-owned pier and replace it with a slightly larger building that also would be used as a restaurant.

The existing building was last used by Newport Pier Grill and Sushi, whose lease ended in 2012. It has been vacant since and has been deteriorating. City staff has said that though the building was expanded and renovated in the late 1980s, it is “beyond its useful life and its removal and replacement is the best economic option. Additionally, the restaurant demolition will allow for renovation of the pier directly beneath the building.”

The Coastal Commission could take nine months to a year to issue a development permit, according to city staff.

According to designs submitted to the city, the new restaurant would be 4,500 square feet — 500 square feet larger than its predecessor — and contain two stories. It would have indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a roof deck and takeout window.

Last year, the council approved an agreement for Bluewater Grill owners James Ulcickas and Richard Staunton to develop the new restaurant’s conceptual design.

Tidelands committee dissolved

In another action Tuesday, the council approved dissolving the Tidelands Management Committee, a 10-member group that hasn’t met since May.

The committee’s duties, which included making recommendations to the council on tidelands projects, will go to the Harbor Commission.

City officials said the move will reduce duplication and achieve some cost savings.

Twitter: @BradleyZint