Crystal Cove State Park secures more funding to renovate untouched cottagesby Tony Cabrera
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Crystal Cove State Park is a hidden gem nestled on a tiny stretch of coastline in South Orange County. Visitors experience what beach life was like 80 to 100 years ago.
"We have this little sliver in time that people can come here and experience what coastal California was like," said State Parks Superintendent Eric Dymmel with Crystal Cove State Park.
"We have a lot of our visitors come from right here in California, but many of them come from much further away and really get to experience the coast while they're here," said Crystal Cove Conservancy President and CEO Kate Wheeler.
A popular highlight: the affordable, overnight stays in 24 renovated cottages.
"We run at about 98% occupancy - they're always full. People really love staying here," Wheeler said.
But that occupancy will soon double, as the Crystal Cove Conservancy and State Parks just secured more funding to restore the final 17 cottages on the north side of the beach.
"Right now, we have about 24,000 nights per year that people can stay here. And this will double it to 48,000," said Wheeler.
"It's really a fantastic example of what public-private partnerships can be as well as working together with a non-profit to achieve goals that would be difficult to achieve with State Parks, alone." said Dymmel.
The project will cost more than $40 million. So far, they've raised about $19 million, which is covering the infrastructure that crews have been working on since last year.
"We're making the hillside safe, we're putting in a boardwalk 650 feet long that will go in front of the project, putting in utilities, things like that," said Wheeler.
The actual cottage restoration will come next and just last week, they took a big fundraising step to help make that happen. The California State Coastal Conservancy granted $2 million - involvement that will help keep the cottage reservations affordable.
"We want everyone to have access to the coast and that's one of the reasons the State Coastal Conservancy was so interested, is because of the low cost accommodations here," said Wheeler.
The first set of cottages could be available as soon as 30 to 36 months. To make a reservation for those and the existing ones, you can go to ReserveCalifornia.com.