Orange County Business Journal

High-End Homes Aimed to Fill Newport Center Void

Meridian Project First in More Than 20 Years Mark Mueller Sunday, April 28, 2013
Meridian: 79-home project overlooks golf course

Meridian: 79-home project overlooks golf course

Newport Center is about to get a little more livable.

Early-stage construction work is now under way for Meridian, a high-end home development slated to go up next to the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

The 79-home project, located on a 4.3-acre site along Santa Barbara Drive overlooking the Newport Beach Country Club, is the first for-sale housing project to go up in the area surrounding the Fashion Island shopping center in more than 20 years.

The upscale Newport Center area—long home to high-rent offices, shops and restaurants and now a just-opened, $128 million civic center and City Hall—is more than due for new housing, according to officials with The New Home Co., the Aliso Viejo-based homebuilder heading up the project.

“If there’s a heart of Newport Beach, this is it,” said Tom Redwitz, chief operating officer of the privately held builder.

New Home Co. bought the land for the project—one of the few available area parcels—late last year in a venture with Hillwood West, a unit of Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood, the Dallas-based development firm that’s helping finance Meridian’s development.

The two companies plan an official groundbreaking ceremony for the project this week.

Expected Sales, Prices

Sales for the five-building development aren’t expected to begin until later this year, but there’s already a buzz—and a growing interest list—for the project, according to Joan Marcus-Colvin, New Home Co. senior vice president of sales, marketing and design.

Prices for the one- and two-story residences, which will run from 2,335 square feet to 3,905 square feet, are expected to start around $1.5 million.

That’s high by Orange County standards, but a $1.5 million price tag is only about $300,000 more than the median price for a home sale in Newport Beach so far this year.

The Meridian development, built on the site of a former tennis club, is designed to take advantage of ocean, golf course, garden and city views, according to the builder.

Concierge service and other amenities are expected to give the development the feel of a luxury resort, Redwitz said.

Residents will get “the freedom of a turn-key residence, minimal attention to maintenance and complete privacy and security,” he said.

It’s the second high-end Orange County development New Home has taken on since its 2009 inception.

The company’s other project, Lambert Ranch in Irvine, has been one of Southern California’s standout developments since its opening last year.

New Home Co. officials said they’ve now sold 133 of the 169 homes at the gated community in North Irvine, with prices for the remaining homes currently ranging from $1 million to $1.6 million.

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