Restaurants could open at PierView/Windsail sites by summer of 2008

Although a Japanese eatery is expected to be built on the Windsail property, it is not known what kind of a restaurant the PierView replacement structure will be.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The lifeless double-restaurant property, formerly the site of the Windsail restaurant and PierView Café, near the Malibu Pier could be ready for customers soon. However, the fare offered might be out of reach for some diners.

The first step was taken last Tuesday when the Planning Commission approved coastal development permits for the demolition of the two buildings currently on the site, which is owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and for the construction of new restaurants there.

A plan is in the works to build a 5,900-square-foot restaurant on the property where the former Windsail eatery sits. A 7,100-square-foot restaurant will be built on the PierView Café portion of the site. The two facilities will not be connected. Both proposals are for restaurant buildings smaller than the structures currently on the property.

Architect Scott Mitchell said, if all goes well, the new restaurants could open by the summer of 2008.

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Planning Commission Chair Carol Randall said she appreciated that the PierView Café was an inexpensive place and hoped the restaurant replacing it could be as well. Mitchell said that was unlikely.

“It’s pretty tough to make a business plan that works with more affordable dining just based on the real estate values those things are on,” said Mitchell, who joked that he did not believe he would be able to afford the food. “It’s just not a place that makes sense for affordable dining.”

Randall said that was unfortunate. “It is a concern that I have for the community that we don’t have everything so expensive and upscale that John Q. Anybody would have a tough time getting in.”

Although a Japanese eatery is expected to be built on the Windsail section, and the architecture will be “Asian-themed,” it is not known what kind of a restaurant the PierView replacement structure will be.

The Planning Commission’s approval of the PierView replacement structure is final, unless it is appealed to the City Council. But the Windsail section must still go before the City Council and then the California Coastal Commission, as an amendment to the city’s Local Coastal Program is needed for that project. The amendment is required because the Windsail property (the two restaurant sites are technically separate properties) under the LCP is zoned for homes. The LCP designation is in conflict with the city’s General Plan, which has the property zoned for visitor-serving commercial use. A City Council hearing on the amendment is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26.

The planning commissioners main concern about the projects is parking. It will be exclusively valet parking, with 134 spaces. That meets the legal requirement, according to the city. Valets will not be able to park the vehicles on Pacific Coast Highway, but there is nothing to prevent customers from parking their vehicles themselves on the highway.

The hours of operation for the two restaurants will be from 11 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. They will contain indoor and outdoor dining as well as bars. No live music will be allowed at the facilities, nor will there be outdoor amplifiers. And the food will be pricey.

Many people have speculated about the fates of the vacant PierView and Windsail buildings, which have stood lifeless behind a locked chain-linked fence for a several years.

Ellison bought PierView in 2003 for an undisclosed sum from longtime owner Chuck Spencer. He then purchased the Windsail structure, which was already vacant, from local developer Richard Weintraub the following year.

When Weintraub owned the structure, he had planned to rebuild a restaurant that would have been larger than city zoning laws allowed. In exchange for that right, Weintraub had agreed to give $400,000 to the local school district and to allow the dining area to serve as a community meeting room during certain times of the day.

With Ellison owning the property, the Weintraub deal is off the table. Some commissioners discussed how they could require Ellison to make a similar commitment, but Deputy City Attorney Gregg Kovacevik said that was not legal. Several commissioners said they hoped Ellison, who did not attend the meeting and was not actually mentioned by name, would be willing to provide a community room.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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