Building Newport Beach: A Chat with Spinnaker Development's Mike Close

Spinnaker Development's Mike Close.

Of Newport Beach and Orange County’s most beautiful homes – and there are quite a few – those constructed by Spinnaker Development stand out. And not just because of their exceptional craftsmanship and quality. Where many homeowner’s post-construction relationships are fraught at best, Spinnaker Development clients rave about their experience.

Intrigued (and eager for an up-close look at their magazine-worthy builds), we chatted with the Founder + Owner, Mike Close. Here, we talk about his start in the industry, Junior Guards, Zellige tile, and building a business and family in Newport Beach.

A Spinnaker Development build.

TSG Newport Beach: We know that you started your career in residential AV, home automation, and custom home theaters. What drew you to AV? How did you transition into luxury residential construction
Mike Close: Actually, my intro to the industry came with a broom and trash can. I was deployed to my brother’s job sites to assist the general laborers. Always enamored by tech systems and their place in people’s homes, I jumped at the opportunity to work with an AV subcontractor on one of my brother’s jobs. I quickly moved into a managerial role within that company, which spurred an interest in controlling the chaos that can be construction. I realized I wanted my work to have a broader scope. 

TSG Newport Beach: What inspired you to take the entrepreneurial leap and start Spinnaker Development? 
Mike Close: In short, my family. The youngest of three exceptional siblings, I had great role models that helped develop my interests. My oldest sister is a highly successful broker in town, and my brother is a well-respected builder. I worked for my sister to learn that side of the business, and still seek out my brother for mentorship. And then there’s my father, my role model for life and business. I watched him grow a tiny business into an international industry leader through his relentless, tireless work ethic. I’m so grateful for his tutelage, guidance, inspiration, and knowledge. 

TSG Newport Beach: What a legacy. Before diving into the legacy you’re building today, let’s talk about those first years of Spinnaker Development. What were they like? How did you gain traction in such a competitive market? 
Mike Close: In a word, the first years of Spinnaker Development were daunting. I was so young, twenty-five, to be exact. And, being so young and green, it was a struggle to build confidence. I struggled with that for the first few years but learned that I had to pave my own path, trust my instincts, and take risks. 

TSG Newport Beach: What did that look like in practice? 
Mike Close: My instincts told me to double down on brand, brand, and brand some more. One of my earliest goals was to ensure Spinnaker was widely considered a luxury brand. To do that, I took on dynamic spec projects, prioritizing them as opportunities to establish Spinnaker as a luxury home builder rather than opportunities to turn a profit. It was a strategy that came with many sleepless nights, but was a turning point in my career and Spinnaker Development’s trajectory. We let our built product do the talking, consistently fine-tuning our process to address the traditional pain points of custom home building. That allowed us to compete in the market of custom home builders in Orange County, and we’ve never looked back. 

Indoor/Outdoor living on a Spinnaker Development build.

TSG Newport Beach: To what do you attribute your success in the industry? 
Mike Close: Reflecting on this question motivates me. It always comes back to values. I structured Spinnaker Development on the business values and ethics instilled in me by my father. Those are the foundation of my personal and professional growth. Of course, communication is also essential. My field offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with all walks of life daily, and effective communication has been one of the most – if not the most – powerful tools in my work. 

TSG Newport Beach: Let’s talk about industry trends. What’s exciting you about custom luxury homes in Newport Beach? 
Mike Close: I’m thrilled to see the industry prioritize practicality and livability in residential design, especially with material selection and its implications for longevity and maintenance. Until relatively recently, those were low-priority considerations. Now, the community is prioritizing eco-friendly and low-maintenance building materials to improve the overall lifespan of their designs. 

TSG Newport Beach: What does this mean for you as a builder? 
Mike Close: It’s rewarding to see a more willing adoption of these eco-friendly, practical materials, as the builder always gets the first call when the home reveals its wear and tear from coastal elements. 

TSG Newport Beach: Any trends you’d like to see retired? 
Mike Close: Zellige tiles and rift white oak cabinetry have run their course. Not only have my tradespeople spent far too long trying to resize handmade zellige tiles to achieve seamless installation, but I’m also ready for richer hardwoods to bring character back into millwork. 

TSG Newport Beach: Is there anything under development in Newport Beach you’re particularly excited about? Perhaps something without Zellige tiles? 
Mike Close: While I’m not currently working on any spec projects, I have partnered on several incredible custom builds in Newport Beach. We recently completed two custom homes in my neighborhood of Irvine Terrace, which were spectacular builds that enhanced the community. And I’m excited to shift gears from mega builds into unique restoration projects on iconic Newport Beach homes. 

TSG Newport Beach: What, aside from your obvious breadth of talent, differentiates Spinnaker Development from other Newport Beach and Orange County custom home builders?
Mike Close: Our perspective. At Spinnaker Development, we look through a different lens than other luxury home builders. Our team considers the project with a decades-long perspective, considering livability, practicality, intention, and life cycle. We want to be a valuable short-term and long-term resource for our clients to allow them to make the most informed decisions for their investment. 

TSG Newport Beach: What advice would you give someone interviewing luxury custom home builders?
Mike Close: No building project comes without hiccups, so partner with a builder who understands and values your vision. Address your pain points early in the conversation to assess how the builder reacts, discuss your budget and timeline to evaluate whether the builder will deliver a product or the product, and talk to their past clients. Residential construction is a referral and reputation-based business. Conversations with past clients will tell you much about what you can expect from working with the builder.  

TSG Newport Beach: Your past clients rave about the Spinnaker Development experience, from individual craftsmanship to the final, beautiful product. How do you inspire this level of consistent excellence among your team? 
Mike Close: I’ve focused on creating a distinct company culture that reflects our core values of trust, loyalty, and dedication to craftsmanship. Ultimately, I find that more rewarding than receiving accolades, because Spinnaker Development is a family. I’ve been so fortunate to “inherit” former family employees, three of whom I’ve known over half my life. That said, we’re so lucky to work in an incredibly inspiring place. 

Exterior of a modern Spinnaker Development build at twilight.

TSG Newport Beach: Let’s narrow our focus and talk about the inspiring place that is our community. Do you have a favorite neighborhood? 
Mike Close: That is a hard one! The Spinnaker Development office is in the heart of Newport Beach, steps away from Lido Marina and Village. But, I’m biased towards Irvine Terrace, where I’ve focused much of my work and raised my family for the last 15 years. 

TSG Newport Beach: Tell us about your family. We know you have two little ones… 
Mike Close: Oh man, my squad! My wife Danielle and I have two incredible little girls, six year old Maison and four year old Brynn. Both attend Pegasus School in Huntington Beach. Danielle is our family’s MVP and team captain. She left her full-time career in fashion styling to join the Spinnaker team and now works freelance while managing our squad. 

TSG Newport Beach: What is it like raising your kids here?
Mike Close: I grew up in Los Angeles but spent summers in Newport Beach. Those three months of sailing, jumping off the bridge, and riding my beach cruiser to Junior Guards were never enough. It was always a dream of mine to raise my family here. Every time we travel, I realize how spoiled we are to call Newport Beach home. There aren’t many places we can take our girls that offer as much or more than what we have in our backyard! 

TSG Newport Beach: We’ll second that. What does a typical weekend look like for you and the family? 
Mike Close: Fatherhood has changed my typical Sunday morning routine. Instead of finding me on the back nine, you’ll usually find me exploring town with our kids. We load up the [street legal] golf cart, and see how the day unfolds. We call them adventure days. Maybe it’s the beach, the park, or a ferry ride to Lido Marina for breakfast and coffee – whatever interests the kids. With incredible views, outdoor activities, and family-friendly spots, it’s hard to have a bad time in Newport Beach. In our family, the best days are always the ones we left unplanned.

TSG Newport Beach: Do you have any usual spots?  
Mike Close: Of course! For coffee, I head across the alley from Spinnaker Development HQto Alta. At lunchtime, I opt for True Foods or delivery from Selanne’s in Laguna Beach. Come date night, SideDoor, ARC, and Bandera are our usuals, as our concerts. And for drinks, CdM, A’s, and the occasional summertime schooner at Mutt’s

TSG Newport Beach: What does it mean to you to support fellow local businesses? 
Mike Close: Locally owned and small businesses – and their principals – bring our community to life. 

To learn more about Spinnaker Development and view their incredible portfolio of work at And don’t forget to tell them Scout you.