Thursday, October 08, 2009

Orange County Fairgrounds On The Block!


The Los Angeles Times, HERE, and the Orange County Register, HERE, both reported about an hour ago that the state has officially placed the Orange County Fairgrounds up for sale and will begin accepting bids immediately through January 8, 2010. It is hoped that the sale will be completed by the fall of next year.


According to the Los Angeles Times article, last night a group of fair board members and local politicians signed papers to form the Orange County Fair and Event Center Foundation, which will be made up of six members from the existing fair board, two members from the city of Costa Mesa, two members from the county and one public member elected by the board for the specific purpose of putting together a bid to purchase the land. If that group is configured as reported it gives the former Fair Board members the majority and control of the bid, regardless what members from Costa Mesa may think.

This should be very, very interesting because Costa Mesa city officials have recently stated adamantly that the 150 acres that forms the property in question will remain zoned as a fairgrounds, which will significantly reduce it's value to potential bidders. According to the news reports, the governor's office estimated that the site could be sold for $96 to $180 million. In these troubled financial times, it remains to be seen if anyone is willing to pony up that kind of cash for a fairgrounds.

On the other hand, if the city's promise (threat) to maintain the present zoning somehow gets quashed, that chunk of freeway-assessable land certainly could draw a fancy price if used for residential or commercial development.

This is going to be a very interesting story to follow over the next year or so.

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Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

First arrange that it have a Newport Beach address then subdivide it into residential real estate lots. Otherwise it will go as a loss.

10/08/2009 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Chris McEvoy said...

I feel disappointed. No faith in this sale. I hope that it gets blocked somehow.

10/08/2009 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous CM North Resident said...

Chris, I don't understand why you always are against any kind of change. Change is progress, ask Barack Obama. Fairgrounds are fairgrounds - the City will never change that, and no one else besides the City has the option to change that. It's just who the owners are and what types of events they hold at the fairgrounds. Maybe the future owners will be great and bring in more revenue for the City and surrounding businesses, as long as the types of events are agreeable to the surrounding areas. In this economy, it should be welcome. You can set up clauses in the agreement so that there are agreed upon rates for the OC Fair and other agreements in the transaction for the benefit of the City. The odds are the grounds will be run more efficiently than they are now.
It would be better if you did not critcize every idea that came up; you want to stop it before you even know the details. Why don't you get the details first before you make up your mind? You sound old and cynical.

10/09/2009 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM North Resident, reading your comment brought a chuckle from me... I suspect Chris seems "old and cynical" only to his students. He's a young guy with a growing interest in Costa Mesa's future ever since he ran for City Council last year.

Regarding the fairgrounds... I've read the entire Request for Proposals... yes, it's a fairgrounds now and is zoned for similar uses. However, the current or any future city council could change that in a heartbeat if they choose to do so. There's a REALLY good chance the successful bidder will be the foundation set up this week with a stacked deck of current Fair board members. I don't think you could expect more "efficiency" - but maybe a lot more profitable as they raise the rates for the space. And, as many have already speculated, all their actions could be done under a blanket of secrecy since it would no longer be a governmental entity and subject to the Brown Act. The state, by it's own terms, is not obligated to select the highest bidder. I think those surrounding neighbors that support the sale of the fairgrounds do so with the expectation that it will remain the same as it is now - something that is not guaranteed. It will be a year before the new owner, whomever it turns out to be, takes over. In the meantime, it's going to very interesting to watch this drama play out.

10/09/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous CM North Resident said...

I have seen Chris many times before and he is always shooting down ideas, even though he is "young with a growing interest." I saw him this week speak about how they shouldn't build the new project on Victoria because there is not enough parking. My point is you should not throw the baby out with the bathwater; you must at least first consider the whole project and the good it can do for the City. The new housing project he wants to dismiss has many excellent environmental features, are wonderful single family homes that we want to encourage young families to move in to and contribute to this wonderful City.
Re the fairgrounds, the bottom line is you can have the agreement drawn up with certain resrictions to what types of acts you can have at the fairgrounds. Next, you would need at least a 4-1 vote from the Planning Commission and City Council infavor to change the zoning. That's a pretty tall order. I am pretty sure the people who voted to rezone the fairgrounds would be recalled. As far as a blanket of secrecy, if they are deciding who is going to play in a venue, who cares? They already have gun shows there, if they are deciding to have Metallica or Madonna play, it sounds like good, clean money for Costa Mesa.
The fairgrounds will remain zoned as fairgrounds, and it will be more profitable and maintained much better with private enterprise.

10/09/2009 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, I guess we'll see about the Fairgrounds.... the process is going to move swiftly, so we'll know the players pretty soon.

If you saw Chris express concern about he parking, nothing that was subsequently said resolved the issue. He is correct that, if this project is expected to be targeted at young people then it can be expected that they will invite people over. As he said, unless they carpool, there will be inadequate parking - each unit has 3 parking spots, two inside and one somewhere outside. In other circumstances the overflow that can certainly be anticipated might end up on the adjacent street - Victoria. That cannot happen, so Maple is the next best choice and that's a good hike.

Let's all watch this project as it makes it's way through the Planning Commission and see how much slack Riggy and his pals cuts this developer. The project has many interesting elements, but the nuts & bolts part - parking - comes up short. I know, I know... it meets our requirements, but there's no convenient overflow venue for visitors and that WILL be a problem.

10/09/2009 09:16:00 PM  

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