Projects in planning pipeline could alter city’s looks

The last year has seen much movement in Dana Point’s development arena, with the city and county moving forward with plans to revamp downtown and the Harbor, respectively. Other developments have also hit the scene in the form of a hotel and mixed-use structures. Google Earth image
The last year has seen much movement in Dana Point’s development arena, with the city and county moving forward with plans to revamp downtown and the Harbor, respectively. Other developments have also hit the scene in the form of a hotel and mixed-use structures. Google Earth image

By Andrea Papagianis

It’s safe to say that Dana Point’s looks will change over the next few years.

From Orange County’s $140 million revitalization of the Dana Point Harbor to the city of Dana Point’s near $20 million project to change the flow of traffic on the town’s major arteries, things around here are changing, or are nearing a juncture where decisions on future development will have to be made.

The latest news coming from the development community is a proposed project in the heart of downtown.

While it isn’t the first mixed-use project to come before the Planning Commission in the past year, the project is the largest the area has yet seen.

In December, commissioners unanimously approved a project at the corner of Del Prado Avenue and Violet Lantern that would combine residential over first-floor retail and restaurant spaces. Plans for the lot, across from Luxe Restaurant and Killer Dana, include a three-level structure with a total of 18 residential units and three levels of enclosed parking for all uses.

Tuesday, commissioners heard a similar project but on a much larger scale.

The project would combine seven plots of land along either side of Amber Lantern stretching from Pacific Coast Highway to Del Prado Avenue and construct 111 residential units and 28,000 square feet of retail. Currently those sites house a Shell gas station, Bella Bazaar, The Coastal Arcadian and a two-story building where Thai This, a realty company and other businesses are located.

Ultimately, commissioners continued public discussion on the matter after more than four hours of testimony from the community—a majority speaking in opposition of the proposal. Residents raised issue with the project’s height, density and its potential impacts on traffic.

The hearing has been continued to Monday, Aug. 11.

Here’s a quick look at a few other projects in the works:

Town Center/Lantern District

Snapshot: After nearly two decades of discussion, the City Council approved its final round of funding on June 17 to reconfigure traffic on Pacific Coast Highway and Del Prado Avenue. Last May, the council unanimously allocated $9.2 million to the project’s PCH phase that is adding medians, bus pullouts and altering landscaping, among other things. It is expected to be finished in October.

Status: At the June 17 meeting, Town Center supporters were met by some resident opposition to the council spending more money to fund the project. A budget item for the project was not on the agenda but with the charge of Councilman Bill Brough, the council voted 3-2 to transfer $7.7 million in city reserves to finish out the Del Prado portion of the project and create a pedestrian-friendly street.

Dana Point Harbor

Snapshot: Orange County’s $140 million Dana Point Harbor revitalization plan garnered approvals, for the landside portion of the project, from the California Coastal Commission, Dana Point Planning Commission and City Council. The project would level much of the Harbor’s existing structures and reconstruct seven commercial buildings with 30,000 square feet of new retail. Plans also include the construction on a 35,000-square-foot park and a two-level parking structure.

Status: In May, planning commissioners approved a development permit for the project in a 4-1 vote. That approval was appealed by a recreational boaters association to the City Council in June. The council upheld the commission’s approval. Boaters 4 Dana Point Harbor, who is opposed to changes that would negatively impact boaters, countered and took their appeal to the California Coastal Commission. A hearing is expected at the CCC’s next meeting, Aug. 13-15 in San Diego.

Other notable projects:

The developer of the Doheny Hotel, Beverly Hills Hospitality Group, who has proposed building a two- to five-story structure with 250 rooms and subterranean parking, has appealed a Planning Commission decision to the City Council. The five-member body does not have a meeting scheduled until September and no date for the appeal hearing has been set.

Formerly known as the Makar Property, a project proposal at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Del Obispo Street looks to add a 169-unit mixed-use development. The 8.9-acre, horseshoe-shaped site of a former mobile home park was rezoned to allow for the property. A public scoping period ended in February and an environmental impact report, which will be available for public review, is in the works.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated the Planning Commission unanimously granted Orange County a development permit for the Dana Point Harbor revamp. In fact, Commissioner Norm Denton voted against the permit. The final vote was 4-1 in favor of granting the project’s permit.

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comments (2)

  • Regarding the Harbor redevelopment, if you look at the numbers in the consultant’s report back from over 10 years ago (and I believe it has never been updated) the County is currently receiving about $6 million a year revenue from Dana Point Harbor. The redevelopment will cost $140 million (probably will be higher) which will be borrowed via a bond issuance. After the redevelopment is complete, County revenues will increase to $8 million. Yes, you read that correctly. The County is going to borrow $140 million and get less than 1.5% return on the investment. Not enough to pay the debt service. So why is the County so hell-bent on this project? Who is going to gain? not the residents of Dana Point. Who is going to be stuck with financial disaster? The Orange County taxpayer.

  • To add to your comment Jehu. The boaters will suffer as well as the community itself. The cost of slips are going to rise to new extremes. I know that the revamp is going to change the traditional look and material usage to replicate a precious time in history; to a new and less improved Cape Cod look. Unless the citizens really take charge in this matter, we can say hello to our new LA South harbor and city.

    What a shame…..

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