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COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE : Costa Mesa's Designs on St. John Knits Plant Could Be Unraveling

January 13, 1994|Debora Vrana / Special to The Times

Costa Mesa city officials are hopeful that St. John Knits Inc., the Irvine apparel manufacturer, will build a new headquarters and manufacturing facility on 15 vacant acres just down the street from South Coast Plaza, but St. John officials say they are looking elsewhere.

The City Council recently approved preparation of an environmental impact report on a proposed 300,000-square-foot St. John's building on land off Sunflower Avenue owned by the Segerstrom family. Once the report is completed, city officials could pass the zoning changes needed to permit a commercial building.

"We're very confident this headquarters will be built. The people at St. John seem very enthusiastic and Henry Segerstrom himself said it was a go," said Donald Lamm, Costa Mesa deputy city manager.

Still, Don Shaw, a real estate consultant working with St. John, which has operations in several buildings in Irvine, cited the regulatory difficulties involved in building a new manufacturing facility in California as one reason the project may not be completed.

"The St. John's people are still looking at other sites and they could decide to just expand where they are now," Shaw said. Founded 31 years ago, St. John's designs and manufactures expensive women's knit clothing.

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