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Breathing life into idle shopping center

Business owners want to see more tourists and pedestrians at Lido Marina Village. The City Council has made its appearance and revenue a top priority.

January 19, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

Set on a brick-paved street in Lido Marina Village, Dan Schmenk’s Lido Village Books has been a mainstay for local bookworms since 1973. But today, his bookshop looks out onto vacant storefronts.

Like other business owners in the village, Schmenk hopes that Newport Beach city officials can help make the area a thriving place again, filled with shops and restaurants.

“We do need to create more buzz about this place,” Schmenk said. “We’ve sort of fallen off the map, but the people who do come here enjoy it.”

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Schmenk has seen at least three landlords come and go over the past 8 1/2 years that he’s owned the bookstore.

Situated on a prime piece of waterfront real estate at the entrance to the Balboa Peninsula, Lido Marina Village was once a bustling shopping center with high-end boutiques. But foot traffic through the area’s brick-paved corridors has slowed in recent years, and many storefronts in the shopping center now sit vacant.

With its extensive selection of nautical-themed books and hard-to-find foreign language periodicals, Schmenk depends on a group of longtime, regular customers who visit the shop. He would like to see more pedestrians and tourists come to the area.

“I would love to see tourists make this area one of their main attractions; that would be wonderful, but first we need to fill up some of these shops,” Schmenk said.

A lack of traffic through the area, coupled with rising rent, has forced many tenants out of Lido Marina Village. The shopping center has changed ownership several times over the past few years. Plans once existed to tear down the shopping center and turn it into a boutique hotel and luxury condominiums, but financing for such a project never materialized.

“Obviously, the economic times are very interesting,” said David Blackman, who manages the Lido Marina Village jeweler Blackman Limited. The locally owned business has been in Blackman’s family since 1957.

“The village was kind of sitting in limbo, and the owners were letting the place go to seed, but now things are looking better,” he said.

The center’s owner recently put in new planter boxes and benches, after city officials asked them to bring the property up to city code, Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood said Tuesday.

“They have been responsive to us and have gone on a schedule to replace a lot of the street furniture and fixtures,” Wood said.

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