Commission OKs large residential project in Airport Area


The Planning Commission last week unanimously approved a large residential project for the Airport Area.

Commissioners voted 5-0 on April 18 in favor of The Residences at Airport Village located at 4540, 4570, 4600 and 4630 Campus Drive, and 4525, 4533 and 4647 MacArthur Boulevard. Commissioners Lee Lowrey and Tristan Harris recused themselves from the discussion and vote due to business interests.

The project includes the demolition of seven commercial buildings and surface parking, and the construction of 444 for-rent units atop an 806-space parking structure. The site is located at the northeast corner of Campus Drive, MacArthur Boulevard and Birch Street in the Airport Area.

Overall, commissioners were enthusiastically in favor of the project, with several comments on the architectural style and the addition of housing to the Airport Area.

“This is what 50 plus units per acre looks like. It’s a good-looking building. There are not many places that this works in the city, this is a good place to implement this,” said Vice Chair Mark Rosene.

Commissioner Jon Langford is looking forward to see this project, as well as other residential developments planned for the area, come to life.

“It’s clearly a very thoughtful project that’s taken many years to put together,” Langford said. “I think our Airport Area, that we’ve been planning on for a long time, is finally seeing the fruits of our labors, with the planning and now with the housing going in.”

Several other Airport Area residential projects have also recently been approved at 1401 Quail Street, 1400 Bristol Street and 1300 Bristol Street.

Satish Lion with The Picerne Group, the applicant for the current project and the two previously approved projects on Bristol Street, said the Airport Village development will be a positive addition to the area.

“I’m extremely proud of this project. I think it’s really going to be exceptional,” Lion said.

A number of retailers in the Airport Area are excited to see this project be built, Lion said. This residential project, as well as their others planned for the area, should draw strong sales and retail growth.

Cory Bitting, associate principal at TCA Architects, agreed. The existing property is occupied by a variety of commercial, restaurant and office buildings, some which are vacant.

“With the current site uses, we believe our project will be a welcome addition to the Airport Area,” Bitting said.

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Rendering by TCA Architects/Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering view from MacArthur Boulevard of The Residences at Airport Village

The podium-style structure will consist of two stories of parking (basement and ground level) and five stories of residential units. The building height would be approximately 85 feet, including architectural elements, parapet, rooftop mechanical equipment and roof access.

Design includes a large open courtyard in the center of the apartment complex with two pools and an approximately 2,400-square-foot covered courtyard patio to accommodate amenities for the residents.

The proposed project includes a variety of private on-site recreational amenities for residents and guests including:

–A dog park on level one

–A courtyard with a pool and spa, clubroom, fitness room and business center on level two (the podium level)

–A clubroom and roof decks with seating area on levels four and five

–Private balconies for some studio and all one- two- and three-bedroom units on levels two through six

There are four driveway entrances onto the site, with MacArthur Boulevard selected as the primary entrance because of its visual prominence along the street frontage and the access with right and left turn movements.

The garage gate is set back from the edge of the building to create a prominent covered entry plaza. It will feature a high-quality design with enhanced materials and decorative columns.

“This is meant to feel like the experience of arriving at a luxury hotel,” Bitting said.

On the podium level is the “most unique feature” of the project, Bitting said, an open space courtyard of more than 1.5 acres with two pool areas linked together by a central open-air amenity.

“This expansive courtyard creates a wealth of opportunities for different activities and experiences,” he said. “We’re excited to provide residents with a high-quality open space, which is not typically possible in this building typology.”

Design elements include flared wraparound balconies at corner units and a pedestrian terrace and grand staircase at the intersection of Birch and MacArthur.

Plans also call for generous and lush landscaping, added Landscape Architect Mike Meyers with Lifescapes International. There are several connections to the surrounding area, he added, and they focused on creating a walkable element around the property. They tried to blur the line between inside and outside areas, Meyers commented.

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As part of the project’s development agreement obligations, at the time the first building permit is issued, the applicant must provide: A public benefit fee of $2 million (and another $2 million when the certificate of occupancy is issued); a park in-lieu fee of $1.25 million and a public safety fee of $1 million.

Last week, commissioners approved:

–Major site development review, which is required for new construction in the zoning district.

–Affordable housing implementation plan, which specifies how the project would meet the city’s affordable housing requirements, in exchange for a request of 35% increase in density. The applicant seeks two development standard waivers related to the overall residential project density range and private open space for each residential unit, and a development concession related to the mix of affordable units pursuant to city code.

–Tentative parcel map to merge five lots into one.

The applicant also proposed a 35% density bonus increase (115 units above the base density of 329 units), in exchange for providing the necessary level of affordable housing pursuant to state and city code. Of the 444 total units, 407 units will be rented at market rate and 37 units will be set aside for very low-income households. Residential units within the project will include a mix of studios, one-bedroom units, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units ranging from 515 square feet to 1,477 square feet.

The project is consistent with the legislative approvals for the Newport Airport Village planned community that was approved by City Council, which assumed a total of 329 base units.

Given the project’s proximity to the airport, even though it’s not under the flight path, Ellmore asked the applicant team about additional materials for noise mitigation.

A preliminary acoustical analysis shows the noise from the airport is less than the noise from MacArthur Boulevard, Lion said. It’s lessened even more at the spot of the future courtyard compared to the perimeter of the building footprint, he added.

Conditions of approval of the project include that an acoustical analysis report be submitted to the planning division. The project has been conditioned to provide a noise study ensuring compliance with an interior noise level of 45 dBA CNEL or less for all residential units and notice to all future residents of potential annoyances or inconveniences associated with residing in proximity to airport operations, consistent with city code sound mitigation requirements.

Replying to a public comment about potential noise impacts, Community Development Planning Manager Jaime Murillo explained that the city’s General Plan includes a policy that anticipates infill projects would be exposed to higher levels of roadway noise. The reduction measures included to address airplane noise would also mitigate against roadway noise, he added, and through project implementation it would ensure that the interior noise levels are compliant with city standards.


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


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