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Martin A. Brower's Along the Coast

Balboa Theater

Boardwalk goes big     
Some thought it was just another real estate dream, but the Boardwalk – the largest speculative office building project in Orange County – is under construction, rising on Jamboree Road at Dupont Drive in Irvine, directly across the border from Newport Beach.

Being developed by Trammel Crow Co., Dallas, the Boardwalk is an architectural statement. Gensler architects envisioned two nine-story buildings connected by indoor and outdoor bridges. The complex dedicates two of the site’s 7.5 acres to landscaped open space, providing facilities for outdoor work and relaxation.

But will the building – with no major tenant yet announced – lease well? Trammell Crow Senior Managing Director Tom Bak claims to have a beat on the market for firms looking for larger floor areas. Typical Orange County office towers have 20,000- to 22,000-square-foot floors. The Boardwalk will offer floors from 30,000 to 64,000 square feet.

More dining alfresco
With the widening of sidewalks along East Coast Highway near MacArthur Boulevard in Corona del Mar, the city of Newport Beach has given three restaurants permission to have outdoor dining – and all three have quickly responded. As summer weather continues into autumn in Southern California, diners can enjoy alfresco dining at the Bungalow, Rothschild’s and Avila’s El Ranchito, with tables placed within quaint wrought-iron fences. Panini Cafe, which already had outside dining, continues the tradition with no need for a fence.

Irvine master-planned villages are big sellers
The Villages of Irvine has become the biggest-selling master-planned community in the nation, according to RCLCO, Washington, D.C., real estate consultants. It beats out a central Florida master-planned community called The Villages, which held the lead position for a number of years. At mid-2016, Irvine had 989 sales vs. 841 for the Florida community.

Little wonder. Six Irvine villages – Cypress, Eastwood, Orchard Hills, Portola Springs, Stonegate and Hidden Canyon – have a total of 35 neighborhoods, with homes for sale ranging from the low $500,000s to the high $2 millions.

Balboa theater: Can the show  go on?
There is new hope for the historic Balboa Theater, the 1928 cinema on the Balboa Peninsula. The once-popular movie house, purchased by the city of Newport Beach in 1988, closed in 1992 after going through several gyrations. A nonprofit group attempted until recently to rejuvenate the theater, with the thought of using it as a live playhouse and public venue, but that attempt failed.

Now the city is working with Lab Holding, whose owner, Shaheen Sadeghi, created the Lab and the Camp anti-malls in Costa Mesa and recently the Packing House dining complex in Anaheim. Lab Holding would retain the historic building’s features, including the marquee, and create a cafe open to the street, a small stage for live music and a second stage for private events. Use of the theater for showing films is not being considered.

Newport Beach has entered into a nine-month negotiating period with Lab Holding during which the company will finalize plans for the venue and negotiate a sale agreement.

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