Redevelopment Wrecks: Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa, California

Triangle Square mall in downtown Costa Mesa was built more than a decade ago with a loan from the City and the use of eminent domain to clear out several existing businesses.  It was expected to pull in $1 million in sales tax revenues annually, but in 2004, the City collected only $200,000.[1]  Since then, the situation has only become worse.  The retail center now sits largely vacant, and many of the anchor tenants, including Niketown, have left.[2]  Former Mayor Sandra Genis, the sole dissenter when the City approved the $62 million project in 1989, said, “If the market was there, it would have happened on its own.”[3]  The mall’s major tenants have gradually left, including a Virgin Megastore in September 2005 and a Barnes and Noble bookshop in January 2006.[4]  In December 2005, City officials blamed “poor marketing” on the mall’s failures, ignoring entirely the thriving businesses they condemned for the mall’s owner under the promise of “redevelopment.”[5]

[1] Steve Lowery, “A Triangle Square Peg in a Round Hole,” Orange County Weekly, Feb. 10, 2005.

[2] “Triangle Square Needs Less Talk, More Action,” Daily Pilot (Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, CA), Dec. 20, 2005; Brian Martinez and Tiffany Montgomery, “Landmark Lost; Nike Cites Low Occupancy Rates in its Decision to Leave Triangle Square Before Lease Expiration Date,” Orange County Register, January 7, 2005.

[3] Daniel Yi, “A Black Eye for City’s Face Lift,” Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2005.

[4] Barnes and Noble Online Store Locator, available at (June 16, 2006).

[5] Andrew Edwards, “Owners Blamed for Mall’s Woes,” Daily Pilot (Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, CA), Dec. 16, 2005.