The Dana Point Harbor and marina project has been the scuttlebutt throughout the city for some time now, and the project is finally approaching the start of phase one. The newly designed seaside village will link the Marina to restaurant experiences.
DANA POINT— As the Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Plan gains momentum, new docks and piles will begin to appear in Dana Point Harbor’s West Basin by the end of this year.
According to the Dana Point Harbor Partners, the new docks and piles will be phase one for the marina portion of the $400 million project.
To secure the commission’s permit, Bellwether Financial Group, a Newport Beach-based marina developer, had to meet several stipulations for the project by the commission. Among those stipulations, Joe Ueberroth, founder, and president of Bellwether Financial Group, agreed to terms that would create an environmental justice program to expose underserved youth from inland communities to water activities, a plan for protecting the harbor sea lions while the project is underway, and a method for enhancing water quality in the harbor. In addition, a biologist will be on location to record the animal’s behavior once the construction starts.
With the go-ahead from the Coastal Commission for constructing the new Marina, Ueberroth will submit permit drawings to the county and then pull permits to begin work. Also put in motion is a project to renovate the harbor.
Bellwether, Burnham Ward Properties, and R.D. Olson Development make up Dana Point Harbor Partners, who have a 66-year lease with the county, which was signed in 2018.
The Dana Point Harbor Revitalization Plan will revitalize the restaurants and retail, The Marina of Dana Point, two new hotels, and fully rebuilt docks, creating a refreshing meeting place for residents and visitors. Businesses choosing to remain open throughout the renovation have expressed positive feelings towards the project.
“We are extremely excited to see all the plans that incorporate our harbor’s rich whale and dolphin watching heritage, as well as surfing,” said Gisele Anderson from Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. “It will be gorgeous and an even stronger destination than ever.”
The backdrop for the marina will be a reconstructed harbor, with buildings with gabled roofs and natural cedar shingles and vintage street lanterns. Native-inspired landscapes will line the pathways people can walk throughout the new harbor.
A new parking structure will be added to improve the visitor experience by allowing a smooth transition for pedestrians and boaters.
The marina will be able to host vessels of all sizes with the newly designed slip layout, and each slip will have its own pump-out station.
Under the public-private partnership, the developers will design, fund, and build the improvements, then operate those portions of the harbor with the 66-year.
Bryon Ward and Scott Burnham of Burnham-Ward Properties will revitalize the restaurant and retail portion of the Harbor, and Bob Olson, of R.D. Olson Development, will develop the two new hotels that will be replacing the Dana Point Marina Inn.
Bellwether has partnered with local YMCAs to help fund swimming lessons and provide outreach to the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters, OC Youth Sailing, and the Surfrider Foundation are other groups involved.
Water quality is another area that Bellwether where will focus on. Instead of using treated lumber that could leach into the water, Bellwether is using fiberglass. In addition, there will be no metal on the floats.
Donna Kalez, who manages the harbor’s oldest whale watching and fishing charter business, said she has been waiting for her dilapidated and decaying docks to be replaced for two decades.
Under the surface, many buildings have become weak throughout the years, especially considering there has never been any type of facelift for them. It will take more than a paint job to keep these buildings strong, prompting the decision to revitalize the harbor and marina.
The new docks will make the harbor look better and safer for the hundreds of visitors who frequent the Harbor almost daily.
The harbor renovation is expected to be completed in 5-7 years. Ueberroth said the largest single-owned marina will “raise the bar for marinas and coastal developments of the future.”