Thinking outside the box


July 30, 2005
Daily Pilot

There has been much discussion in the Daily Pilot, at city council and planning commission meetings, and with our neighbors on the proposed expansion of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach and with the usage of Triangle Square in Costa Mesa.

Here are a couple of proposals from me about St. Andrew’s and Triangle Square that are outside the box of previous discussions.

* The city of Costa Mesa would buy Triangle Square for the fair market price of a half-empty shopping center and make it the new city hall and police station. The current City Hall and police station would then be sold to land-locked Vanguard University, which wishes to expand its student body and campus.

The city, if it has extra space at Triangle Square, could lease it to companies who could meet the parking requirements of the city planning and traffic departments.

It’s a win for the owners of Triangle Square, who get their money out of the property and get to leave an unfriendly town. It’s a win for Vanguard University, which gets room to expand its campus. It’s a win for the city, which gets a new city hall and police station. And finally, it’s a win for Triangle Square, which gets fully occupied and gets the respect it deserves.

* The Newport Mesa School District would sell half of the Newport Harbor High School campus — the west campus that borders 15th Street — to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, thus saving $20 million to $30 million in Measure A funds and earthquake retrofitting of a number of older buildings, including Norman R. Loats Performing Arts Center and Robins Hall.

St. Andrew’s would move its campus from its current location on the west side of 15th Street to a newly-built sanctuary and church buildings on the east side of 15th Street. To finance the purchase of the land and construction of the new facilities, St. Andrew’s would build two- and three-story condominium buildings with underground parking on its old site, and then sell them. That would keep most of the properties west of 15th Street residential.

Using the savings from the earthquake retrofitting, the Measure A funds destined for Newport Harbor High and the income from the sale of the west campus, the school district would construct a new, modern campus for Newport Harbor High School on its half of the property bordering 16th Street, including a new Loats Performing Arts Center and Robins Hall.

St. Andrew’s and the school district would jointly build a parking structure that would be used by both.

It’s a win for the Newport Heights neighborhood, which keeps its residential feeling. It’s a win for St. Andrew’s, which gets more room for expansion. It’s a win for Newport Harbor High School, which gets new, modern facilities, unmatched in the school district.