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Triangle Square Is on a Losing Streak

Costa Mesa's struggling shopping center is dealt another blow when retail giant Virgin Megastore decides not to renew its lease.

June 29, 2005|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

The announced closing of a second national retail store at Triangle Square has dealt another blow to the struggling Costa Mesa shopping center and the city's effort to breathe new life into its commercial core.

The Virgin Megastore declined to sign another lease and will close Sept. 22, company officials said. The Triangle Square location is not a good fit, and the music retailer will look for a new Orange County location, a company spokeswoman said.

The company's announcement comes six months after Niketown, the store with the prominent dome towering over Newport Boulevard, pulled out of the mall, citing the center's low occupancy. The center's remaining tenants include the Gap, Barnes & Noble, Edwards Cinemas, several restaurants and a popular nightclub.

One of the existing tenants intends to expand into the space occupied by Virgin, said Bob Hitchcock, regional vice president of Charles Dunn Real Estate Services, the mall's management firm.

The shopping center, a wedge-shaped structure at Newport and Harbor boulevards, was the centerpiece of a city redevelopment project in 1993. It was envisioned as a potential magnet for shoppers that would add vitality to an area of town that had become tired. Planners once compared it to San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square.

But the center has struggled to keep tenants, and city officials have debated whether it was wise to subsidize the project. Whole Food, an original anchor, was one the first major tenants to pull out in 2002.

The mall is a 191,000 square-foot outdoor plaza with restaurants, entertainment and retail stores that touts itself as the "place to be" and aims to serve the "affluent coastal communities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa."

It was expected to pull in $1 million in sales tax revenues annually. However, it only brought in $200,000 in sales tax last year.

The property management firm hired a leasing team last week to seek new tenants, such as retail stores, restaurants, a day spa or health club and even a bowling alley.

"This is our opportunity to target tenants who are not necessarily chain stores, but unique tenants that complement the center's exciting mix of existing tenants," Hitchcock said.

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