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Monday, May 29, 2023

OCMA Still Plans Move to Segerstrom Land

Plans to relocate the Orange County Museum of Art to a new facility at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa are moving forward despite uncertainty over the fate of the museum’s current location in Newport Beach.

The museum “is still working” with the local division of New York-based developer Related Cos. to sell its existing Newport Center property, according to Todd DeShields Smith, chief executive and director of the museum.

A time frame for a deal is murky, as are any redevelopment plans for the current museum site on San Clemente Drive near Fashion Island.

“We’re working every day on this,” said Smith, who took charge of the museum’s operations about six months ago. “We’re still moving forward with the move to Costa Mesa.”

The museum announced last July that it had entered into a 90-day exclusive negotiation period with Related California for the re-entitlement and development of the museum’s current site.

Expectations at the time were that Related California—primarily a developer of multifamily and mixed-use residential properties—would turn the roughly 2-acre site into a condominium project.

Other land eyed for residential development around Fashion Island has recently sold for as much as $10 million an acre.

Newport Beach voters rejected a proposal to allow more development in the area in last November’s elections, however, putting Related California’s project and others in doubt.

Executives of Related California could not be reached for comment.

Real estate watchers now believe a smaller office development at the existing museum site would stand a better chance of getting the necessary city approvals, but a sale to an office developer would likely result in less money for the museum.

Smith declined to address Related California’s current plans for the site, but said discussions between the two parties have continued beyond the initial three-month exclusive negotiation period.

“We hope there is an end-result that works” for all the parties, Smith said.

Smith also declined to address industry rumors that Newport Beach-based Irvine Company, which owns much of the commercial property around Fashion Island, had made a bid for the museum’s existing site.

A sale of the Newport Beach property, in any case, would likely go a long way toward the financing needed to build a museum in Costa Mesa—one of several development projects proposed for the city’s arts district, along with hotel, apartment and condo projects.

The museum would be the last of three arts projects to go up on 6 acres of land given to the Orange County Performing Arts Center—later renamed the Segerstrom Center for the Arts—in 1998 by South Coast Plaza and the Segerstrom family.

An expansion of the South Coast Repertory theater was completed in 2001, and the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall opened in 2006.

Family patriarch Henry Segerstrom, who died Feb. 20 (see story, page 1), said in 2008 that he envisioned the museum as the final piece of the puzzle in turning the center into “an internationally recognized home for the visual and performing arts.”

In 2008, the museum said it received legal title to the 1.64-acre parcel slated for the new Costa Mesa facility, located on Avenue of the Arts. The land transfer required groundbreaking to take place “no later than 2013,” according to a press release from the museum issued at the time of that transaction.

Extensions to that requirement have subsequently been made, Smith said.

The current requirement for groundbreaking has not been disclosed.

The museum wouldn’t appear to be in jeopardy of losing its claim to the Costa Mesa land; Anton Segerstrom, a son of Henry Segerstrom, serves on the board of trustees for the museum.

Likewise, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, the niece of Henry Segerstrom, serves on the board of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

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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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