Koll Center will deliver on community ‘consensus’

The following appeared in the February 13 Daily Pilot

Something unique and positive happened at the Koll Center Residences Planning Commission Workshop late last month: consensus was formed. The headlines following the meeting gave the impression that Newport was split on the project — some for, some against. In pure us-versus-them terms, that may have been true; public speakers were divided pretty evenly on the project, as presented (“Speakers at Newport meeting are split on plan for condo towers,” Feb. 1).

But this is an oversimplification and misses a bigger point: Almost to a person, the public called for a vibrant, urban mixed-use community with homes, shopping and public park space at Koll Center Newport.

That is consensus on an overall vision and provides my company great direction moving forward. It is also a strong affirmation of the original plan for the site — one that was approved by the voters and that we have always attempted to reflect in our project design.

Yes, there are details that still need to be refined. For example, some asked that we move forward with the project as proposed, while others asked that we lower building heights and add more retail. But essentially all speakers — from teachers, to adjacent building owners, to environmentalists and lifelong Newport citizens — asked that this become a vibrant community and not remain as an underutilized parking lot over by the airport.

We agree. That’s why I personally committed to the Planning Commission that we would find a project that meets this consensus vision. New community development can be a divisive issue. But consensus around a broad vision can eliminate the us-versus-them mentality and lead to great projects. After gaining feedback from the public and Planning Commission, I am confident we can design a great project at Koll Center Residences.

Bill Shopoff, Chief executive officer, Shopoff Realty Investments

Letter from Bill Shopoff: A good night for Koll Center Residences

Friends -

It was a good night for Koll Center Residences.

After a decade of planning and more than 50 stakeholder meetings, the project finally went before the Newport Beach Planning Commission for a public workshop.

By our count, more than 40 members of the public spoke and nearly all favored housing at the site!

We heard strong support for the proposed plan from lifelong residents, employers, teachers, college students, environmental stakeholders and the business community. We also heard requests to lower the building height, add more retail and other good ideas from residents and nearby business owners. The Planning Commission then gave thoughtful direction and requested we work with stakeholders on these refinements.

The consensus was clear and encouraging: Koll Center Residences must become a vibrant urban village for Newport Beach.

This has always been the foundational concept for the site. Last night's direction was a strong affirmation of this vision and a giant step towards making it a reality. We're now going to spend the coming weeks making some refinements to the project and engage with stakeholders before going back to the Planning Commission for a public hearing.

Thank you to all who attended last night's workshop, those who have written in support of the project and all who continue to engage constructively to make Koll Center Residences an iconic project for Newport Beach. It was extraordinary to have such a diverse group of supporters and we are grateful.

As we finalize plans for Koll Center Residences, please let us know if you have any questions or would like more information on the project.

Bill Shopoff

Chief Executive Officer

Shopoff Realty Investments

Koll Center promises public benefit

Koll Center promises public benefit

The Koll Center Residences have been in planning for a decade. The project is poised to bring tens of millions of dollars in public benefits, like new parks, public safety and other city priorities. It is also designed precisely to what we, the people, have asked for. Its density, height, location and amenities, including a new public park by the airport, are all defined and the project passes these tests with flying colors.

Koll Center development will help ease region’s housing crunch

Koll Center development will help ease region’s housing crunch

“To me, housing is transportation; transportation is housing. You don’t reach those goals, we’re going to take [state transportation] money from you,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Associated Press earlier this month.

This quote makes it clear the new governor is playing hardball with cities that do not approve housing. If a city rejects General Plan-compliant projects, he’ll withhold millions of dollars of transportation funding.