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ORANGE COUNTY, CA-The Newport Beach City Council has approved plans by a private group to build a 10-story office tower in Koll Center Newport, clearing the way for the first public vote on a project that falls under a new slow-growth provision in the city charter.

The council voted 5-to-2 to approve the proposed high-rise, following the unanimous approval of the local planning commission last month. The 250,000-sf tower would rise inside Koll’s master-planned project at MacArthur Boulevard and Jamboree Road and be built by a group led by Newport Beach resident and investor Tim Strader Sr.

Last fall, 63% of voters in the city approved the so-called “Greenlight Initiative” that generally requires a public vote on projects that would exceed allowances in the general plan by 40,000 sf, or would involve more than 100 car trips or homes that the general plan allows. The initiative was incorporated into the city charter earlier this year.

Because of its size, the office tower proposed by Strader falls under the new provision and thus must be approved by a majority of local voters. Strader’s group has promised to pay the city nearly $2.1 million to make traffic improvements in the area, plus another $112,500 to help fund a study of traffic around John Wayne Airport.

The group has also agreed to pay the estimated $60,000 to $125,000 it would cost to put the project up for a vote in a special election this fall, rather than waiting for the regularly scheduled election in spring 2002. The City Council is expected to set a date for the special election at its Aug. 14 meeting.

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