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Residential project for Airport Area gets green light from commission

By SARA HALL

A large residential project in the Airport Area received unanimous support from the Planning Commission last week as commissioners agreed that the thoughtful design will fit in well as the area is transformed over the next decade and more housing units are built.

Commissioners voted 6-0 (Commissioner Brady Barto was absent) on Thursday (Dec. 7) in support of the 229-unit Residences at 1400 Bristol. Plans from the applicant, The Picerne Group, call for the demolition of two existing two-story office buildings and surface parking located at 1400 and 1420 North Bristol St., and the construction of 229 apartment units atop of a 422-space parking structure.

Most of the comments from the dais revolved around the “beautifully designed” building, how the Airport Area will change in the coming years, and how the project will contribute to the city’s state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment, in particular, the goals for affordable housing. Council adopted the 2020-2029 housing element and the state certified the document late last year. It includes an inventory of potential candidate housing sites by income category. As identified there, the Airport Area includes 62 new housing opportunity sites that could accommodate up to 2,577 housing units.

“The Airport Area is going to be a dramatically different place in the future,” said Chair Curtis Ellmore. “The quality of which this construction and this project brings – in terms of the finishes, the fixtures, and the thought – is trailblazing and I hope it sets a precedent for the other projects.”

It’s about time the Airport Area gets some attention, it’s ready for it, added Commissioner Tristan Harris, noting the applicant’s other local projects.

“I’m really excited about the area being transformed,” he said.

It helps that it checks off a number of the city’s boxes for housing needs, but he also appreciates having a good operator in there and taking charge, Harris added.

Several commissioners commended the applicant team for their work on the project. Commissioner Jonathan Langford applauded The Picerne Group, city staff, and others involved for the large design’s well-thought-out plans.

“We like to see local investment here in Newport Beach,” he said.

Residential projectmain entry

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Rendering by The Picerne Group/Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the Residences at 1400 Bristol looking at the main vehicular entry from Bristol Street

The Picerne Group feels a deep responsibility in creating the right mixed-use village environment, said Greg Nakahira, managing director at TPG.

“It’s not difficult to see that the airport market is the one area in Newport Beach that will go through a dramatic change in the next 10 years,” Nakahira said. “In addition to residential, we believe retail and entertainment development will occur organically as they recognize the spending power of the future residents that will live, work and shop in this area.”

“We truly want to look back in 10 years and feel like we made a positive difference in this city,” he added.

Mixed-income projects are the best method to start to meet the city’s affordable housing mandate, added Satish Lion, senior vice president of acquisition, entitlement and development at The Picerne Group.

“We’ve always believed that projects that contain affordability, if seamlessly integrated into the project, can be successful,” he said.

They’ve taken lessons learned and resident feedback from another local project TPG developed, One Uptown Newport, and utilized that into the projects they have in planning, Lion said. Residents have noted that they want a higher level of finishes and better service, he added.

“Our future projects are moving towards the next level of quality and interior specifications of luxury condos,” he said.

They’ve improved on several design elements compared to previous projects, including the unit plans, where the units are placed in the building, and how they approach the amenity spaces, added Cory Bitting, associate principal and studio director with TCA Architects and lead architect for the project.

Residential project Bristol bridge

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Rendering by The Picerne Group/Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the Residences at 1400 Bristol looking at the pedestrian bridge from Bristol Street and Spruce Avenue

The property, approximately 2.38 acres in size, is located in the Newport Place Planned Community, at the northwest corner of Bristol Street North and Spruce Street. The project also includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge that would connect to the approved residential apartment project at 1300 Bristol Street, across the Spruce Street right-of-way, being developed by the same applicant.

The bridge would be located on the second story, at the southern corner of the building. It would be a nine-foot-wide pathway and span approximately 108 feet and provide a minimum 17-foot clearance for emergency vehicles.

It will operate independently, but since the previously approved 1300 Bristol project is adjacent they have a unique opportunity to create a complementary building design and amenity package, Bitting said. There are different amenities at each building, he explained, 1300 Bristol will be more wellness and relaxation focused while 1400 Bristol is active and socially focused.

The applicant will be required to enter into a lease agreement with the city, subject to the payment of fees for the use of airspace over the city’s right-of-way. The pedestrian bridge has been conditioned to comply with Caltrans standards for bridge construction.

According to city staff, the proposed multi-unit residential building is designed as a “podium-style” structure that consists of five stories over one level of on-grade parking and two levels of subterranean parking. The building height would be approximately 85 feet, including architectural elements, parapet, rooftop mechanical equipment, and roof access, explained Senior Planner Liz Westmoreland.

The 229 apartment units include 40 studio units,126 one-bedroom units, and 63 two-bedroom units. The studio units would be 515 square feet, the one-bedroom units would range from 613 to 896 square feet, and the two-bedroom units are proposed to range from 1,049 to 1,469 square feet.

Of the 229 units, 23 units would be affordable and restricted to very low-income households. The remaining 203 units would be market-rate, for-rent apartment units.

Plans call for a design of modern contemporary architectural style with articulated facades comprised of a mix of stucco, fiber cement board siding and tile veneer facade accents. The color scheme would be white, dark grey and beige. Metal awnings and metal railings on the private decks would further provide facade articulation.

Vehicular access to the project site is currently and would continue to be provided from one driveway on Bristol Street (but relocated approximately 65 feet to the northwest) and one driveway on Spruce Street. The Bristol entrance will provide controlled access to the resident garage and the Spruce driveway will provide full access. The gated entry on Spruce Street would remain open during business hours for guests. After business hours, guests would use a free-standing call box for entry.

The project is required to provide 261 parking spaces (a reduction in the requirement allowed for providing affordable units, based on the density bonus law). Guest parking would be provided on the ground level from the Spruce Street entrance.

The sewer capacity study prepared by Tait & Associates, Inc. on August 11, 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.

The project will still need 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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