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Landside Construction Begins at Dana Point Harbor

Groundbreaking held for commencement of state-of-the-art parking structure, landscaping and extension of Golden Lantern

Burnham Ward Properties (BWP), a partner in Dana Point Harbor Partners (DPHP), announced the commencement of construction on the landside portion of the revitalization project known as the Commercial Core at Dana Point Harbor. A groundbreaking took place February 7 to commemorate the milestone in the multiyear project. 

The revitalization has already been well underway within the marina on the waterside with multiple phases completed, including replacing about 580 old docks with world-class, 6-sided enclosed concrete floating docks made from environmentally friendly materials. With the waterside construction continuing to progress, crews will now officially begin the Commercial Core construction, which will become the “heartbeat” of the Harbor. The Commercial Core will feature waterfront shopping, dining, events and educational activities and will continue as home to Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching and the Catalina Express.

“This is a historically and culturally significant milestone in the revitalization of Dana Point Harbor and it’s been a tremendous effort to get the landside revitalization to the point of a groundbreaking,” mentioned Bryon Ward, President and Partner of Burnham Ward Properties (BWP). “Waterfront development of this scale is an especially complicated undertaking and the entire revitalization plan has been over 15 years in the making and so many people that came before us are to thank for that. Thank you to the County of Orange staff, the City of Dana Point staff, elected officials and each of the local stakeholders who have supported this effort over the years.”   

Spearheaded by BWP, the five-phase, 120,000-square-foot landside portion of the revitalization project will elevate Dana Point Harbor’s restaurants and retail experience while creating picturesque public spaces for year-round education, activities and entertainment. Throughout each phase, access to the waterfront will be maintained for both boaters and the public, and existing businesses will remain open to the public during construction. 

The landside construction begins with Phases 1 and 2, which will include a brand-new, three-level parking structure, an upgrade to old underground utility infrastructure, updates to surrounding landscaping and site work, an added pedestrian pathway and a beautiful new extension of the road leading into the Harbor, Golden Lantern. The 984-stall, state-of-the-art parking structure will include 93 boater dedicated spaces and boater-service amenities including restrooms, showers and changing rooms, a corral of service carts to aid boaters carrying supplies to their boats and a valet drop point for boaters positioned at the gangway to the docks. The new structure will also feature EV charging stations, a significant increase in parking spaces and convenience for Sportfishing, Whale Watching and Catalina Express customers departing from the adjacent Dana Wharf area.  

“When we took over the Harbor in November of 2018, one of the most frequent comments we received from both local merchants and the public was that additional parking was needed,” said Scott Burnham, CEO and Partner of Burnham Ward Properties (BWP). “We’re proud to be commencing the landside development and creating significantly expanded parking accommodations to ease public access to the stores and waterfront during upcoming phases of construction.” 

Phases 1 and 2 are anticipated to be completed in 12 months. Following completion of the first two phases, construction will then begin on Phase 3 of the Commercial Core, which includes development along the waterfront. This phase is anticipated to begin in March 2025. The final phases will include the redevelopment of the buildings within The Wharf. 

“In just one year, remarkable advances on the revitalization of Dana Point Harbor have been achieved this past year. Since 2023, DPHP completed four new phases of the marina and this monumental groundbreaking kickstarts the development of the new Commercial Core,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley. “This progress is a testament to the hard work and collaborative partnership between DPHP, the County of Orange, and the whole Dana Point Harbor community. Looking toward the future, the County will continue actively engaging in ensuring the success of this ambitious and vital $600 million project.”

Key features of the commercial core revitalization project will include 12 new or remodeled multi-tenant retail and restaurant buildings with best-in-class, coastal-inspired, four-sided architecture. Current operators and an expanded list of new stores and restaurants will be featured in the new project. The expanded retail footprint will also feature many chef-driven food concepts along with a unique food hall called “Boathouse,” which will feature up-and-coming small, independent offerings. The revitalized Commercial Core will also include rooftop decks with expansive views over the breakwater. Outdoor public green spaces between the buildings will feature soft seating areas with fire pits, public art and multiple event spaces for concerts, craft fairs and farmers markets. The waterfront boardwalk, which will more than double in size, will increase connectivity from Doheny State Beach to Baby Beach, creating one of the largest walkable harbors on the West Coast.

This marks the start of the fully entitled Commercial Core portion of the project. The fully entitled marina, under DPHP partner Bellwether Financial, will continue its phased construction and the planned hotels, led by DPHP partner RD Olson, will continue with their entitlement effort with the hope of securing approvals sometime this year.  

DPHP is dedicated to preserving Dana Point Harbor’s historical significance. This will ensure every element of the Harbor is thoughtfully designed, redeveloped and managed to be reimagined into a world-class destination with historic roots and local charm. For more information on the revitalization of Dana Point Harbor visit danapointharbor.com/revitalization

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