Additions aim to transform Triangle Square

The Costa Mesa shopping center will be adding a 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport, which is part of an effort to revitalize the struggling area.

September 14, 2011|By Joseph Serna

COSTA MESA — Developers are hoping the addition of a new gym and new restaurants can help get the ailing Triangle Square back into shape.

A 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport is set to open Nov. 19, according to the chain's website. The gym marks the first of a new wave of businesses aimed at dramatically overhauling the once-bustling Costa Mesa retail center.

"There's been a change to make it a destination location, a blend of entertainment," said Don Lamm, consultant for Greenlaw Partners, Triangle Square's owners. "That's the direction Triangle Square is going: where you go to eat, work out at the gym, maybe bowl…"


Yes, bowl.

On top of the new 54,000-square-foot gym complete with a pool, basketball hoops racquetball court, Lamm said the company is recruiting an entertainment tenant, possibly a bowling alley similar to Bowlmor Lanes at The District shopping center in Tustin.

Last month, the Planning Commission approved bringing in two restaurants — Saddle Ranch Chop House and El Corazon de Costa Mesa — next to the Yard House restaurant and Sutra nightclub. Saddle Ranch replaces the Chronic Cantina, and El Corazon will take over the space once occupied by Upper Crust Pizza and Johnny Rockets.

"It's kind of exciting. With the new property owner, they've made it a goal to revitalize," said Mel Lee, a senior planner with the city. "Basically, the big change has been that with El Corazon and Saddle Ranch, they took away the concept of small tenants like shopping malls have."

What was once a food court on the second level above ground with lots of small food and dessert shops will be transformed into a plaza with a handful of sit-down restaurants.

Whether the new tenants will serve up a resurgence remains to be seen.

In the years following Triangle Square's 1992 opening, it was bustling with Niketown, Gap and Virgin Megastore. Each has closed.

More than 23 businesses have had locations in Triangle Square since 2000. Only five remain, city records show.

Most stores last two to three years, according to business license records.

City officials blame much of the center's failings on previous ownership. The project cost $72 million and required eminent domain to build, according to Daily Pilot archives.

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