Despite some protest, the Ventura Port District has extended a lease option with Orange County-based Beauchamp Enterprises on the firm's proposal to operate much of Ventura Harbor's shopping village.
The district approved extension of the option on a proposed 50-year lease at its Jan. 18 meeting. If approved, the lease would cost Beauchamp between $6.5 million and $8 million.
The extension gives Beauchamp, which already owns two marinas in Ventura Harbor, until June to come up with financing to operate Harbor Village.
District officials have greeted Beauchamp's lease proposal warmly, saying it would bring stability to the long-beleaguered cluster of 100 shops, restaurants and harbor-related businesses while generating at least $350,000 in sorely needed wharf improvements.
Ocean Services, which developed and operated Harbor Village, went bankrupt in 1986, defaulting on $6.5 million in bonds used to build the shopping village and leaving $16.3 million in debts.
The lease extension was opposed by CIB Development, a Huntington Beach firm that bought the majority of the outstanding harbor bonds last year and has twice tried to claim title to Harbor Village.
CIB has ties to the founder of American Diversified Savings Bank, a savings and loan that was bailed out by federal regulators last year in a $1.14-billion refund--the largest ever.
Beauchamp's two marinas at Ventura Harbor have 560 slips and are worth about $15 million, said Richard Parsons, Ventura Harbor general manager. The firm also operates a 985-slip marina at Dana Point Harbor and a 611-slip marina in San Diego.
Robert F. Beauchamp, the firm's 74-year-old founder, began building a financial empire in 1939 by aggressively advertising dental care on credit to lower-income and minority communities. Today, he has parlayed those earnings into real estate and other businesses that reportedly total $500.