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Another Airport Area residential project earns approval from commission

By SARA HALL

The Planning Commission last week unanimously approved another residential project in the Airport Area.

Commissioners voted 6-0 (Brady Barto was absent) in favor of The Residences at 1401 Quail Street project, which includes 67 for-sale condominium units and a 146-space parking structure. The Residences at 1400 Bristol, another large residential project in the area, also recently received unanimous support from the commission on December 7.

As they’ve seen other local projects proposed for the area, Commissioner Jonathan Langford noted that this project seems to integrate nicely into the overall plan for this neighborhood of the Airport Area, which is better than having “one-off” projects that don’t relate or connect to each other.

“I’m just generally excited to see that there’s a critical mass of housing projects going on here,” in this area, Langford said. “It seems like this community is being built in front of our eyes and…I like the direction (it’s going).”

He hopes more developers follow in the footsteps of the previously proposed projects and the area continues to grow.

It’s an attractive project coming from a quality builder, added Vice Chair Mark Rosene.

“It looks great. It’s going to fit in wonderfully to the community,” he said. “I feel really good about what’s being proposed here.”

Rosene also liked that the project is bringing for-sale housing units to the market.

Commissioner Lee Lowrey echoed the comments from his fellow commissioners and commented that the aesthetics and diverse square footage of the units are nice features of the project.

“That area there seems to really be coming along and that vision is coming along,” he said.

He also pointed to how the project contributes to the city’s state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment, including the affordable housing goals. These recent Airport Area projects place Newport Beach in better shape than a lot of other cities struggling with RHNA housing numbers.

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Rendering by Robert Hidey Architects/Courtesy of Intracorp and City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the motorcourt and the Residences at 1401 Quail Street

The project will require demolition of the existing 22,956-square-foot office building and surface parking on the 1.71-acre site, explained Senior Planner David Lee.

The applicant, Intracorp Homes, is proposing to construct a multi-unit residential building designed as a “podium-style” structure that consists of five stories over one level of on-grade parking and one level of subterranean parking, Lee said. The building height would be approximately 81 feet, including architectural elements, parapet, rooftop mechanical equipment and roof access.

The 67 condominium units include 27 two-bedroom units and 40 three-bedroom units. The two-bedroom units would range from 1,304 to 1,963 square feet with four differing layouts. The three-bedroom units would range from 2,097 to 3,174 square feet in size.

Lee explained that of the 67 units, eight units would be for sale and restricted to low- and very low-income households. Of the eight affordable units, six would be for very low-income households and two would be for low-income households. The remaining 59 units would be market rate, he said.

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According to city code, the density allotted to the property would be 52 units, based on the conversion of existing 22,956 square feet of office use and calculated to maintain traffic trip neutrality. Lee noted that Intracorp Homes requested a 27.5% increase in density (an additional 15 units) based on the density bonus law. The application includes an Affordable Housing Implementation Plan, which specifies how the project would meet the city’s affordable housing requirements, in exchange for increase in density.

Allowed along with the density bonus, the applicant is also requesting a few development standard waivers, including: park dedication requirements; street setbacks and building height (usually limited to 55 feet in this area).

The proposed residential building is designed with a contemporary modern architectural style, intended to be reflective of the surrounding office setting. It is designed with a darker gray stucco finish on the podium and first floor levels and a white stucco finish for the floors above. Lee noted that the contrast in the two-tone color palette reduces the visual mass and bulk of the building and creates a nice aesthetic design. Additionally, various units on each elevation are constructed with walkable decks with glass railings, adding additional aesthetic treatment to the building.

The architecture is inspired by the world-renowned architect Robert Stern and his 70 Vestry project in New York City, explained Vice President of Development for the Newport Beach branch of Intracorp Homes Rick Puffer. The Quail Street project is similar in terms of its massing, scale and color blocking, he said.

The color blocking and the choice of the London plane trees (which was discussed with the city) bring in a residential element and tie the living space to the pedestrian feel of that corridor, Puffer said.

This development provides a number of public benefits, Puffer commented, including providing key housing opportunities in the Newport Place Planned Community and supports the local economy with new residents that will frequent nearby shops and restaurants.

“We believe this project will be memorable and deliver on our tagline,” of building the extraordinary, Puffer said. “We’re excited about this project.”

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Rendering by Robert Hidey Architects/Courtesy of Intracorp and City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the driveway and the Residences at 1401 Quail Street from a view on Spruce Street

The proposed project includes a variety of private on-site recreation and amenities for residents and guests including: clubroom, outdoor seating area, swimming pool and pool deck, and a spa.

The project is designed with one vehicular access driveway in the approximate location of an existing entry on Spruce Street, Lee pointed out. The 26-foot-wide driveway will connect to a roundabout at the end of the driveway to allow an adequate turning radius for emergency vehicles, as well as pick-up and drop-off for residents and visitors. The entry driveway also provides a direct access to six open-air parking spaces, which includes a van-accessible ADA space and two EV-charging spaces. It will also lead to the project’s two-level parking structure located on the first floor and has a gated ramp which accesses an additional subterranean parking level.

The parking structure contains a total of 141 spaces, which includes 44 resident spaces and 15 guest spaces on the first floor, and 82 resident spaces on the subterranean level.

The sewer capacity study prepared by Adams-Streeter Civil Engineers, Inc., on October 20, concludes that there is insufficient capacity in a downstream segment of pipe to support the project along with other approved and planned residential development in the area.

A condition of approval requires that the applicant coordinate with the city to complete the required off-site improvements identified in the study. The applicant shall be responsible for their fair share cost of the improvements as determined by the city, which may include the payment and construction of the entire improvement, unless the city assumes the cost of the improvement.

A timeline of 21 months for demolition and construction activities is slated to start in September 2024 and conclude in October 2026. The project still needs to be reviewed and approved by the City Council and the Airport Land Use Commission.

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Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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