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Condos to be part of downtown

April 16, 2003

Deirdre Newman

Only Petula Clark could have sung the praises of a downtown

condominium project more passionately than three members of the

city's Redevelopment Agency on Monday.The agency -- the City Council

wearing another hat -- approved the high-density project at 1901

Newport Blvd. by a 3-2 vote with outgoing Mayor Karen Robinson and

Councilman Allan Mansoor dissenting.

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In February, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the

project in the downtown redevelopment zone.

Project supporters echoed the commission in touting the perfect

fit of the project for the downtown area.

"I think the key is that this is a downtown project and we've

talked about making downtown a destination and this is exactly what

downtown calls for -- high-class condos within walking distance of

entertainment," said Councilman Gary Monahan. "I think it will just

raise property values all around it."

The project calls for Rutter Development to add 161 upscale

condominiums to the 1901 Newport property that now hosts the Spanish

mission-style Newport Plaza building. A Vegas-style nightclub has

also been added to the Newport Plaza building, but awaits further

approval from the city's fire marshal.

The condos will be housed in four four-story buildings measuring

about 50 feet high. The project also features a two-level underground

parking structure and a five-level aboveground parking structure.

Mansoor said he rejected the project because he had significant

concerns with density and traffic issues.

"I simply would have liked less density and that would have

alleviated a lot of the other concerns, like traffic," Mansoor said.

While the council split in approving the project, it was unanimous

in its conviction to require developer Rutter Development to either

build 14 affordable housing units or substantially rehabilitate 14

existing affordable housing units within the redevelopment zone.

"If we would have accepted the fee, the city would have been left

holding the hot potato with no guarantee of a way to fulfill our

requirements," Mansoor said. "And I felt that was not wise to leave

the city holding the bag."

* DEIRDRE NEWMAN covers Costa Mesa and may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at deirdre.newman@latimes.com.

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