The fenced-off mass of dirt and scaffolding is the biggest government project in the history of Newport Beach.
When completed, the massive new Civic Center and park will replace the current Newport Beach City Hall located off of Newport Boulevard. Construction started in early 2011 and is scheduled to be finished near the end of 2012. Tara Finnigan, city spokeswoman, said the construction budget, which includes two parks, a parking structure, excavation work, a library addition, the new City Hall and council chambers, and a pedestrian bridge, is estimated at about $106 million.
But that could balloon to "between $120 million and $140 million," she said. "It is difficult to predict where in that range we'll land when all is complete."
City officials said the site will have many amenities, including a 17,000-square-foot expansion of the library, a 16-acre park, an emergency readiness center and a 450-space parking structure.
“The city will benefit in a number of ways,” Mayor Nancy Gardner said. “I know library patrons are looking forward to the additional parking. Dog owners can't wait for the first bark park in the city. Art lovers anticipate the public art that will grace the park and, for all residents, they will be better served in a City Hall that reflects today's technology as well as allows for better integration of departments.”
Councilman Edward Selich said the current City Hall is too small for the number of employees and is "functionally obsolete." Remodeling wouldn't be cost-effective, he said.
Still, some residents remain skeptical.
Tim and Pam Peck, who have lived in Corona del Mar 43 years, fear traffic delays near Avocado and MacArthur. They also think it's a waste of tax money.
“We don’t need new parks. ... It is great that we are getting more jobs, but if we hire more people, that means more tax dollars, and when those people retire, that means more tax dollars for pensions,” Pam Peck said. “I didn’t vote for it, and neither did most of my friends.”
In contrast, Stephen Rese looks forward to the new project.
“I’m happy to see that the community is building itself out,” Rese said. “People who don’t own dogs are surprised at the cost for the dog park alone, but I think it’s a good thing. It will give our dogs a place to walk around.”
The new Civic Center is designed as an environmentally friendly building, constructed to at least a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
It will include passive heating and cooling systems, California-friendly landscaping in the main portion of the park, and facilities designed to increase the number of city workers who carpool, bike to work, or use alternative-fuel vehicles.