Ruby, copper, amber, jade and navy lanterns glowed over the water in the Dana Point marina at dusk.
The new lanterns — situated at the end of the first recently remodeled new docks — were a taste of things to come once the entire Marina at Dana Point is finished as part of an overall $500 million remodel being undertaken by Dana Point Harbor Partners.
The docks, between Baby Beach and the Island Way Bridge, are the first of 16 phases of the renovations that will create a new 2,254-slip marina. The $115 million project is expected to take five years.
“We’re unveiling a key component of the marina: naming every single dock after a lantern,” said Joe Ueberroth, president of Bellwether Financial Group, the Newport Beach company building the marina project.
Ueberroth was there on Wednesday, Aug. 16, along with Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, city officials, boaters and harbor merchants for an event billed as a summer party to celebrate the completion of the new docks.
The next phase — the docks in front of the Marina Inn — should be done in a few weeks. And, the final two phases in West Cove, near the yacht clubs, should start construction by March 2024, Ueberroth said.
It’s been 48 years since there was a new dock in the harbor. The first boats sailed into their new slips in late April and now the two sections are at 100% capacity.
The 252 docks are the first project completed in a massive overhaul of the harbor by the partner developer group. Others in the project include Bryon Ward, president of Burnham Ward Properties who is heading up the development of the harbor’s commercial core, and Bob Olson of R.D. Olson, who hopes to build two hotels once entitlements from the California Coastal Commission come through.
In 2018, the group won a 66-year lease from the county, and in return, the partners are making improvements in both the marina and on land.
“In the end, we’re planning to have 42 different lanterns,” Ueberroth said. “At sunset, we’ll turn on each lantern color.”
The lanterns are a nod to the city’s Lantern District, an area of streets that are lit and named after a series of lights that look like ships’ lanterns.
“You can’t find this anywhere else,” Ueberroth said. “Technologically, it’s not easy to do. Our desire is to integrate the landside with the waterside so it’s not just a boater experience but a harbor experience.”