Southern California College this week announced plans to convert a dilapidated motel on Newport Boulevard into dormitories.
The small Christian campus bought the boarded-up Coastal Inn Motel at Newport Boulevard and Mesa Drive last month for $685,000 and hopes to refurbish it to house married students, according to Jerry Clarke, director of plant operations.
The 1,200-student campus currently provides 680 beds in 340 dorm rooms. The new dorms should add 90 to 110 rooms in time for fall 1997 classes. The plans still require City Council approval.
"It will fit well," said Mayor Joe Erickson, referring to a City Council plan to spruce up Newport Boulevard. "It's a good reuse of a problem motel, which is one of our biggest goals."
Like many neighboring businesses, the Coastal Inn deteriorated after the expansion of the Costa Mesa Freeway along Newport Boulevard. The freeway eased congestion but decreased the visibility and business of firms along the boulevard. Vagrants, drug dealers and others frequented what was once a major artery to the heart of town.
"Two-thirds of the traffic was lost when the freeway was connected," said Ed Fawcett, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "As a result, all of those businesses were no longer viable."
The City Council and a committee that Fawcett helped form fought back earlier this year with the Newport Boulevard Improvement Plan, special guidelines that discourage new motels or automotive businesses from opening on that stretch. Plans call for more mom-and-pop stores and restaurants.
"The idea was to create a plan that would make it possible for landowners to redevelop their property with the least amount of trouble and maybe some help from the city," Fawcett said.