“It’s going to be the most beautiful building in Newport Beach,” Hanna said. “We’ll call it the jewel of Newport once they fix it up.”
Local businessman Russell Fluter bought the remaining 11 lots that stretch along West Coast Highway, said Hook, who represented Fluter and Mariners Mile Gateway in the sale.
“The long-term plans are to develop a new shopping center, but the exact time frame or timing of the construction will depend on the retail market and interests from tenants,” Hook said.
Fluter already owns a shopping center at Bayside Drive and Pacific Coast Highway.
Hook’s firm had been trying to attract buyers to the 111,000-square-foot parcel since June — a task made challenging in a chilly credit market.
“Lenders had turned off the valves in 2009 for a property that potentially could have sold for $10 million,” Hook said. “For vacant land with dilapidated buildings on it, there really wasn’t any interest from the lenders.”
The lots were split up in hopes of attracting more potential buyers, Hook said, adding that the city sued in Orange County Superior Court in February to force the previous owner to clean up the property after hearing numerous resident complaints about graffiti and broken windows.
A settlement with the two buyers of the land calls for a cleanup and landscaping of the property within 60 days after the close of escrow. The city also will receive $10,000 to cover staff costs and attorneys fees amassed while trying to force the owners to clean up the area.