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OCBJ INSIDER

When South Coast Plaza celebrated its 45th anniversary a decade ago—at an event at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles—the Costa Mesa shopping center had only just recently passed the $1 billion mark in annual taxable sales, said Debra Gunn Downing, the center’s executive director of marketing.

Henry Segerstrom used the event to suggest that passing the $2 billion mark wasn’t that far behind, Gunn Downing recalled.

Segerstrom, who died in 2015, was right. While it took over 40 years to hit $1 billion, the next billion came much faster; the center brought in a record $2.2 billion last year, Gunn Downing said at an event last week celebrating the center’s 55th anniversary this year.

Befitting a center that’s now on par with Milan’s Via Montenapoleone and Paris’ Avenue Montaigne among luxe shopping destinations, last week’s event didn’t need to go to LA for star power.

It was hosted at SCP’s Knife Pleat, the Michelin-starred restaurant that earned Tony Esnault the Business Journal’s nod as Chef of the Year last month.

Expect several new retailers, jewelers and food additions to join the center this year, Gunn Downing said. That includes at least one more French dining spot. Tiffany & Co. just opened a Petrossian at Tiffany restaurant, with “the world’s finest caviar and a French-influenced contemporary menu,” according to SCP officials.

“I think $3 billion cannot be too far behind,” Gunn Downing said.

For more on the additions coming to another notable area shopping spot, the Irvine Spectrum Center, see Emily Santiago-Molina’s story on this page.

Another prior Business Journal award honoree is making headlines in local political circles.

The New Majority Orange County last week selected Lucy Rawlins to be their new chair. She is the first woman to lead the New Majority since it was founded in the late 1990s by a group that included George Argyros, Donald Bren, Larry Higby, Gary Hunt, William Lyon and Tom Tucker.

New Majority “promotes a fiscally responsible philosophy in government and an inclusive mainstream approach towards politics,” and says it is the state’s largest Republican Political Action Committee.

Rawlins has been part of New Majority for over seven years and is part of the family that runs Santa Ana’s R&B; Wire Products, a maker of commercial laundry carts, hampers and other products. R&B; Wire in 2018 earned a Family-Owned Business Award from the Business Journal.

The two vice-chairs serving under Rawlins will be Latham & Watkins’ Cary Hyden and hotel developer Bob Olson of R.D. Olson Development, who earned our nod as Businessperson of the Year Award in 2019.

Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) founder and CEO RJ Scaringe earned one of our Businesspeople of the Year honors in January, and now can add another accolade: the Irvine EV maker last week made Time magazine’s latest list of the 100 most influential companies.

Several reports noted that Rivian made the cut while much larger EV competitor Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) didn’t, even though Tesla’s Elon Musk was Time’s 2021 Person of the Year.

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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