City will purchase market

Council will turn the site into more parking. Reviving the Balboa Village area is a top priority.

January 26, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday night voted to pay $3.5 million for the site of the historical Balboa Village Market to make way for more parking in an aging shopping district.

“I view this as a very strategic action on the part of the city to immediately provide additional parking for the Balboa Village area,” said Councilman Mike Henn, who negotiated the deal.

The council has made revitalizing the Balboa Village area a top priority this year.

Businesses there have struggled in recent years, in part because of a lack of parking in the area.

The old brick market building, which has been shuttered since 2006, is covered with a mural depicting scenes from the Balboa Peninsula.


The mural was painted by artist Donald MacDonald in 1995.

City official will discuss ways to replace the mural with a new public work of art by the same artist, Henn said.

The city will buy the market from businessman Leo Gugasian, who also owns the Balboa Pavilion and the Catalina Flyer ferry.

Funds to buy the property will come from a city pot of money designated for parking improvements.

In other business, the council moved to take legal action against the owners of a run-down shopping center in Mariner’s Mile that has generated complaints from residents.

“We are moving against the developer to eliminate this eyesore,” Councilwoman Leslie Daigle said in an e-mail after the council met in closed session on the matter.

Newport Beach will try to speed up the cleanup of the property through nuisance abatement proceedings in Orange County Superior Court, City Atty. David Hunt said at the meeting.

The vacant shopping center near the intersection of Dover Drive and West Coast Highway is owned by the developer Mariner’s Mile Gateway LLC. The firm contends that it has not been able to clean up the property because of a heated legal battle over what was to be an upscale shopping center on the site.

Mariner’s Mile Gateway acquired the property in 2004 with the intention of building Bel Maré, a 56,000-square-foot shopping center with a Mediterranean theme.

Rite Aid was to be the anchor tenant, but Mariner’s was unable to secure the necessary California Department of Transportation approvals to develop the center as originally planned.

Rite Aid sued Mariner’s for $30 million, alleging the developer did not have the right to terminate its lease after Caltrans would not grant the proper approvals.

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