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$27M may go toward city hall

Deal would let Irvine Co. use space in Newport Center for 400-plus unit development, add retail space for Fashion Island.

October 31, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

The Irvine Co. will give the city of Newport Beach $27 million to build a new city hall wherever it wants as part of a proposed new development agreement unveiled Tuesday night at a joint special City Council and Planning Commission session.

“Some things could stay the same or could change, but we’re about 80 to 90% there,” said Mayor Steve Rosansky, who helped negotiate the deal along with Councilman Ed Selich.

Designed to make the mostly Irvine Co.-owned Newport Center the cultural, civic and financial center of the community, the plan is bound to make the public debate more interesting over a February ballot measure that would require Newport Beach’s city hall to be built next to the city’s central library.

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“I think this is an opportunity to bring the community together and directly address so many of people’s concerns,” said Newport Beach resident Karen Tringali, who opposes the February ballot measure to build City Hall by the library.

Proponents of the plan believe the Irvine Co. plan gives the city an option to buy a site that would be cheaper to build on than the city-owned site by the library.

The $27 million from the Irvine Co. would be a development fee that could be used to build a new city hall or other municipal buildings. The development agreement also includes an option for Newport Beach to purchase a site in the 500 block of Newport Center between Santa Rosa Drive and San Nicholas Drive for a new city hall at the city’s appraised value.

“The 500 block site is the lowest-cost site, and its right smack-dab in the middle of Newport Center,” said Councilman Keith Curry, who opposes the proposed site next to the library.

To accommodate the Irvine Co. proposed city hall site, 72,000 of 278,000 square feet of undeveloped land designated for offices would be transferred to block 500 of Newport Center.

Bill Ficker, lead proponent of the ballot measure from the group City Hall in the Park, said it would take time for him to process the Irvine Co.’s proposal, but said it was still up for the public to decide where the next city hall should go.

“It’s too soon to comment, but there’s still an election in February,” Ficker said.

As part of the deal, zoning for the area would create a new planned community, that would merge two blocks of Newport Center, Fashion Island and San Joaquin Plaza to form North Newport Center Planned Community.

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