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Partners With 20-20 Vision : Their Office Building Rises Near Freeweay Hub

May 26, 1985

The term 20-20 means more than good eyesight to Ronald D. McMahon and Don W. Oliphant.

It means an $18-million office project that they are developing in Santa Ana between the Santa Ana and Newport freeways.

Known as the 2020 Building, the structure, which has just been topped out and will be ready for occupancy in June, was named for its address on East 1st Street and for its developers' vision in planning and design.

Before they purchased the site last September as general partners of a limited partnership called East First Street Associates, McMahon and Oliphant imagined the 4.2-acre property as the future location of a major new corporate-headquarters-class building.

They reckoned that proximity to the Costa Mesa-Newport (55), Santa Ana (5) and Garden Grove (22) freeways--all only a few minutes away--would be a distinct plus. They also recognized advantages in being near the seat of county government and established residential communities.

When Jim Buckingham, who is handling leasing with Mark Friend and Brett Barnard through Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services, looked at the property, he agreed, saying, "Our surveys have shown that there is an abundance of clerical, technical and professional workers residing within a five-mile radius of the site. It is virtually at the hub of Orange County's high-quality work force."

The land was occupied by Santa Ana Chrysler-Plymouth, which has since relocated temporarily to an adjacent lot. The dealership intends to move eventually into the planned Santa Ana Auto Mall.

No zone change was required for construction of the 2020 Building. "In fact, the city of Santa Ana was pleased with the higher and better use because the city is undergoing upgrading with some very ambitious plans," a spokeswoman for the developers said.

Before they started construction, McMahon and Oliphant figured they must also have some ambitious plans. Visible from both the Newport and Santa Ana freeways, their new building would have to be dramatic looking, they agreed. And they wanted it to set a new standard for the decade-old Park Center office area nearby.

McMahon put his architectural and planning firm, McMahon, Jones, Ray Partnership, to work and the result was a five-story, 112,460-square-foot building facing 1st Street.

The structure will have state-of-the-art climate-control and life-safety systems and a comprehensive, card-key access system for tenant safety and security.

An expression of the post-modern influence, it will have a polished granite and blue, reflective glass exterior and archway entrances leading to a courtyard with three fountains, trees and flowering plants. Joseph Linesch & Associates created the landscape design.

The general contractor is McMahon Development Inc., headed by McMahon and Jim Lefler. Said Buckingham:

"In this case, the developer exercises total quality control over design, construction and management."

During the past five years, McMahon/Oliphant Properties has developed more than 600,000 square feet of buildings in the western United States. Among them are the Ranch Center retail complex in Diamond Bar, the Huntington Medical Plaza in Pasadena, the 5 Whatney research-and-development facility in Irvine, the Alvarado Court medical Building in San Diego, Corporate Center in Pleasanton, and San Diego Corporate Plaza, which is just now being built.

At the same time, McMahon and Oliphant have pursued individual interests. Oliphant, a director of Pacific National Bank and a major fund raiser for the Orange County Performing Arts Center, is also general partner of Knott's Berry Farm and managing partner of Knott's Berry Farm Foods.

McMahon is a director of the Lincoln Club of Orange County and Life Ministries. In the past, he was involved in developing amusement and leisure facilities all over the world.

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