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Gotcha Glacier Lines Up 2 Major Tenants

Entertainment: The proposed snowboarding and wave-pool venue in Anaheim is close to signing leases with Sport Chalet and Jillian's.

March 17, 2000|E. SCOTT RECKARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Advisors to the $105-million Gotcha Glacier project said Thursday that the proposed indoor snowboarding and wave-pool park is close to signing two major tenants, a big step toward getting the much-delayed Anaheim sports center underway.

The private developer of the one-of-a-kind project hopes to complete 10-year deals soon with sporting good chain Sport Chalet and Jillian's, an operator of giant entertainment centers that combine bars, restaurants, billiards, bowling and other games under one roof.

"I would say that within the next 30 days both leases will be signed," said Wally Limburg of Strategic Retail Advisors in Newport Beach, the brokerage handling retail leasing for the project.

But even those leases won't guarantee that the four-level Glacier, larger than the nearby Arrowhead Pond hockey arena, will rise on the Edison Field parking lot.

Glacier of Anaheim LLC, the developer, also needs to complete deals with smaller retail tenants, corporate sponsors and shop operators inside the park. Most important, Glacier must secure financing.

Leasing the remaining space "is going to be a challenge" in a part of Orange County better known for masonry shops than shopping, said Carol Schillne, a leasing agent at CB Richard Ellis brokerage.

At nearby Stadium Promenade, for instance, restaurants have succeeded but the retail space sits vacant, she pointed out.

Still, with the big retailers nearly on board and an agreement reached recently with Enron Corp., an energy company that has agreed to manage the complex power needs of the Glacier, the developer has been telling city officials and business associates they are confident the deal can be done.

"We're very confident that it will be built," said Bret Colson, a city spokesman. "Any time you have a project of this magnitude and complexity, it's quite possible that delays will occur. Overall, we're satisfied with the progress that they're making."

This week, Glacier of Anaheim was crowing about one of the final touches--a promotional deal with bodyboarding champion Michael Stewart, who will endorse the project in return for an ownership stake.

"We hope that by mid-April they'll be able to show us evidence of financing," said Elisa Stipkovich, Anaheim's executive director of community development. "Things look like they're moving ahead very well."

City Would Collect $600,000 Yearly Rent

The city owns the Glacier site and stands to collect $600,000 a year in rent when construction begins, increasing to more than $850,000 annually, Stipkovich said.

With a skateboard park, a wind tunnel for simulated skydiving, a gigantic rock-climbing wall, man-made snow slopes and six wave pools, the Glacier was designed as the anchor for Sportstown, a 40-acre entertainment mall with a sports theme that had been promoted by Anaheim.

But the new tenants would use so much space--73,800 square feet for the two-story Jillian's and 29,000 square feet for the one-story Sport Chalet--that they would exhaust the city allotment for retail space at the entire Sportstown project.

Instead of several clustered buildings as previously envisioned, the plans now show one vast structure housing the sports park, Sport Chalet, Jillian's and two smaller retail spaces. The Glacier's glass facade, towering above the baseball stadium, will be far more visible, noted Andrew Feola, president of F&A Architects, the project's designer.

"Now the entry will become the window to the [Orange] Freeway," Feola said.

The site is beside the Sun Theatre, the music venue operating in a building that had housed the failed Tinseltown Studios dinner theater. An office building, part of the original Sportstown plan, is going up nearby.

The city also has approved construction of 500 hotel rooms at the site, although no developer has stepped forward to build the lodging.

The Glacier's groundbreaking, originally scheduled for February 1999, could take place this spring if all goes well, said John Best of Kajima Urban Development LLC, the construction company supervising the project.

A 22-month building schedule would mean an opening in early 2002--a year after Walt Disney Co. opens its $1.4-billion California Adventure theme park next to Disneyland.

Target Customers Are Not Disney's

The Glacier development team, which includes a landscape construction company owner, a surf-wear mogul and a former ski instructor, initially had hoped to open its project at the same time to benefit from the hoopla over the Disney expansion two miles away.

But they say now that their target customers--Southern California's throngs of action-sports enthusiasts--are largely a separate group from Disney patrons anyway.

"We'll be glad to have any Disney tourists who want to come on up," said Michael Gerard, Glacier's chief of operations and marketing. "But our plans don't depend on them."

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