NEWPORT BEACH — The Irvine Company, owners of the six-decade old Balboa Marina located across the channel from Linda Isle, recently revealed updated plans to insert an additional 12 public slips and a public dock into the recreational boating area.
“This is a joint project between us and the city of Newport Beach,” said Michael Lyster, the Irvine Company vice president of communications. “The main goal of the project is to expand the public and private boat slips at the marina. Any project like this involves a lot of consideration. You have different authorities that you have to work with.”
The Irvine Company first proposed a marina expansion and installation of a public dock to the Newport Beach Harbor Commission on Sept. 9, 2011, but excessive planning and studies have slowed the plan’s progress.
Following a complete renovation of the marina back in 2009, the company added four community slips. But as the popularity of the public spaces grew, so did frustration among private slip holders in the marina and residents of nearby Linda Isle. While the slips provided easier access to the area’s nearby attractions, residents complained of late-night disturbances and time-coded gate locks which often kept public boaters from returning to their boats at night.
“Since then, we’ve gotten more clarity,” Lyster said.
Shortly thereafter, the slips, which are currently located near Sol Cocina and 3-Thirty-3 Waterfront restaurants, were moved closer to the gangway and eventually gated off, according to Newport Beach Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller. With an ultimate goal of employing the water area near where the former Reuben E. Lee riverboat restaurant once rested, the Irvine Company plans to move the slips to the Westside of the marina.
“Something like this is not a quick project that can easily be done,” Miller said. “It takes on a life of its own, but it’s a rather slow life especially when you factor in the other components that one has to work with.”
The project calls for 24 additional private slips to be added within the marina, as well as the construction of a retail services building on facility grounds. Lyster said this will help meet the growing demand of the boaters in the harbor. A pedestrian walkway that runs on the landside of the marina and will extend along Coast Highway is also proposed.
“The goal of this is that it connects to the public slips and provides a nice pedestrian walkway where folks can get out of their boats and walk to restaurants in the area,” Lyster said.
Since 2011, Miller said the city has contributed $125,000 toward environmental work, which has included studies on wave currents, water flow and traffic associated with the prospective project. According to Lyster, the Irvine Company has also partnered with the community to fine tune and outline the scope of the project.
Company representatives presented the restructured plan to the Harbor Commission during an Aug. 13 meeting, and officials are also scheduled to speak before the Newport Beach Planning Commission in September and the California Coastal Commission in early 2015.
Miller added that representatives could submit a plan to the Coastal Commission prior to the end of the year. The Irvine Company did not provide a cost associated with the project, though sources noted the venture will be privately funded.