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Friday, Sep 30, 2022


The coronavirus has taken a bite out of the fortunes of several real estate owners on (and taken off) our latest OC’s Wealthiest rankings, the centerpiece of this week’s edition.

Donald Bren’s no exception; we’ve estimated a $1 billion cut to his portfolio’s value due in part to the likely hits to Irvine Co.’s extensive retail holdings. He’s still No. 1 on the list, though, by a wide margin. See page 20 for more.

You can’t fault Bren for not foreseeing the effects of the looming pandemic with some of his recent investments in Irvine Co.’s retail holdings: take note of the extensive upgrades to the patio and sidewalk areas of Crystal Cove Shopping Center, completed just in time to allow for more outdoor dining.

A tented Mastro’s outdoor area, along with a now-reopened Javier’s and Marché Moderne all were doing brisk outdoor business during a visit last week.

It’s also been near-record levels of business at The Butchery at the Newport Coast center, thanks to those preferring to eat their high-end steaks at home, sources tell the Business Journal.

Not everyone—make that everything—likes the busy crowds just off Coast Highway. Our Rick Reiff notes recent signage at the center, warning diners and others of “active birds” nesting nearby. Several people he knows say they’ve gotten “pecked,” and reports the NextDoor site is active with other accounts of “bird encounters.”

No word whether the aggrieved nesting birds are the gnatcatcher, a federally threatened bird that’s long been the bane of Bren and other developers along OC’s coast. “Bird nests are protected by the California Fish & Game Commission and cannot be removed,” the center’s signs say.

The coronavirus (and low interest rates) has kept loanDepot founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh plenty busy this year, so he hasn’t been able to spend as much time as he’d like on his yacht Bad Company, see page 14 for a look at the billionaire’s boat.

The pandemic has also forced him to cut back on plans this year for the War Heroes on Water sportfishing tournament, an annual event he backs that supports, and hosts, combat-wounded veterans.

He’s planning an “intimate reunion event” in Newport Harbor this October for WHOW alumni but is already working on an expanded event next year. The event raised a little over $200,000, and hosted 27 vets, in 2018; Hsieh is aiming to serve more than 100 vets and raise $1 million in 2021.

“Now more than ever, veterans nationwide need assistance and support,” Hsieh said. “These unprecedented times have been difficult for many, but are especially challenging for vets, as they are currently isolated from many of their regular activities, routines and support systems.”

Irvine’s Montrose Environmental Group Inc. went public last Thursday (see page 4), but their execs aren’t the only locals counting their IPO returns.

Boise, Idaho-based grocer giant Albertson’s Inc. went public at the end of June. Chairman Emeritus Bob Miller’s stock in the firm was valued at some $150 million as of last week, filings indicate.

Miller, a former student at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, recently snapped up a home on Balboa Peninsula for $10.2 million, our Katie Murar reports. See our front-page story on luxury home sales for more.

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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