Newport Beach contemplates future of Mariners Mile, Ardell properties

NEWPORT BEACH — Nearly three months has passed since properties associated with Ardell Investments on Mariners Mile were sold to a real estate investor yet Newport Beach city planners are still unsure how to restore the nautically themed stretch of Coast Highway.

City officials hope a revitalized Mariners Mile would promote several waterfront uses, such as a hotel, visitor-serving retail and restaurants, and mixed-use residential, according to a presentation made to the Newport Beach Harbor Commission on March 9.

A city planner who spoke with commissioners at the meeting said he was unclear how the redevelopment of the Ardell properties and Mariners Mile as a whole would take shape, although any plans would have to be holistic.

“I think this is exactly what Newport Beach needs,” said Harbor Commission Chair David Girling.

Three zoning districts define Mariners Mile: highway-oriented commercial corridor, commercial village, and harbor-oriented uses.

The recent Ardell sale included two parcels of land on either side of Coast Highway. The land use zoning of the two properties are split, according to city staff. Harbor zoning applies to the property alongside the waterfront while the inland parcel is zoned for village uses.

The Newport Beach General Plan shows the land parcels where Ardell Yacht and Ship Brokers currently exist are zoned for Harbor and Marine-Related Commercial use. A limited amount of housing and mixed-use projects are permitted along the bayside half of Mariners Mile. 

The parcel where Silver Seas Yachts and Sun Country Marine sat is zoned for commercial use. Mariners Mile’s entire stretch of landside parcels is zoned for commercial interests, neighborhood-serving retail, mixed-use projects (housing built above retail) and multi-family residential.

The city recently solicited vendors to submit proposals of how they would revitalize Mariners Mile. Two proposals were submitted earlier this month; a vendor could be selected by mid-April.

“[Newport Beach] is currently reviewing proposals from qualified firms to develop a Revitalization Master Plan for Mariners Mile that evaluates existing development regulations and conditions and makes recommendations to achieving the vision for the corridor and its form and quality,” said Patrick Alford, a city planner.

Redevelopment of the stretch of Coast Highway between Dover Drive and Newport Boulevard has been up for discussion for years.

Newport Beach contemplated transitioning Mariners Mile from a boater’s haven to a destination for boutique shops, high-end automotive dealers, trendy restaurants and urban-style housing in 2014. A five-day workshop hosted by the city in October 2014 failed to yield any progress of how to redevelop Mariners Mile.

“The five-day planning and design charrette tested new ideas to improve the corridor. With public participation and local knowledge, the design teams identified design techniques focusing on improving vehicular flow, the pedestrian experience, and bicycle access,” Alford said. “The recommendations developed by the Congress for the New Urbanism are detailed in the final report. The findings of the report and recommendations will be considered as the City continues its planning efforts in Mariners Mile.”

The General Plan’s design elements would require Mariners Mile to have ample parking, a pedestrian promenade, water access and views, and see-through elements. Planners hope any developer taking on the redevelopment of Mariners Mile maintains several components to continue the coastal village’s character while also making it a regional destination.

Some of those components include protecting view sheds and coastal resources, maintaining proper building scale and massing, offering streetscape amenities, limiting traffic impacts and connecting the bayfront to visitors.

Ardell Investments sold its properties for about $72 million in early January; its departure from Mariners Mile means at least one major yacht brokerage will no longer exist in Newport Beach’s nautically themed village.

Newport Beach’s City Council identified the 1.3-mile stretch of Coast Highway as one of six areas ripe for revitalization.

“In 2011 the City Council recognized the need to revitalize Mariners Mile and designated it as one of six ‘revitalization area.’ It is recognized that a multi-layered approach was required to consider the complex issues within Mariners’ Mile,” Alford said.

Art galleries, specialty shops, BMW and Mercedes-Benz dealerships can currently be found on Mariners Mile along with restaurants such as Pizza Nova and The Winery bumping up against boatyards, marinas and yacht brokerages.

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