Plans for a new Duke's Surf City restaurant on the beach next to Huntington Beach Pier received approval this week from the City Council.
"This is a really exciting project," said Councilman Ralph Bauer. "It's going to change the dynamics [of downtown] for the better. It's the kind of thing we've always dreamed of. The character of downtown will change dramatically."
Mayor David Sullivan cast the lone opposing vote, saying the parking plan for the restaurant was inadequate.
By allowing parking for the restaurant in the downtown parking structure during the summer, Sullivan said, the plan takes "spaces for the various businesses in the downtown itself. . . . There are simply no extra parking spaces available in the downtown."
The city plans to rebuild the beach parking lot next to the restaurant, making about 60 parking spaces available exclusively to Duke's customers year-round. Additional spaces there will be available in the winter. In the summer, when those additional spaces must be offered to beach visitors, the restaurant will provide valet parking in the downtown parking structure.
The two-story restaurant will be on the site of the former Maxwell's by the Sea restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway at Main Street. It will be named after famed surfer Duke Kahanamoku and will have a surfing theme.
Also this week, the council directed the city staff to evaluate funding options for building the Pier Plaza project next to the pier. The project includes rebuilding the beach parking lot, providing for the separation of pedestrian and bicycle traffic that shares the same path, and adding a grassy area and new restrooms.
Robert Franz, deputy city administrator, said that Pier Plaza's cost is estimated at $5.2 million, but the city has only about $2.1 million for it. The council directed the staff to examine various possibilities for making up the difference.
Construction on both Pier Plaza and the restaurant is expected to start next September and end in late summer or fall of 1997.