By Sarah Peters
9:16 PM PDT, April 3, 2012
The owners of Triangle Square are rebranding the struggling Costa Mesa shopping center as The Triangle, where an upscale restaurant, entertainment and retail will mix with late hours, alcohol sales and a 10-lane bowling alley.
Newport Beach-based Greenlaw Partners, with the help of outside finance partners, is attempting to revitalize the commercial complex that has been suffering high tenant vacancies in recent years.
The master plan for its project received city approval in March. Changes include 17,000 square feet of new restaurants, a 14,000-square-foot bowling alley, 7,000-square-foot wine storage facility, exterior building and landscaping upgrades, valet parking and new signage.
Overall, the project provides almost 50,000 square feet of restaurant space, including a 4,000-square-foot restaurant in the bowling alley.
Saddle Ranch Chop House and El Corazon de Costa Mesa will join Yard House in the coming months.
Costs of the makeover are estimated at $25 million, according to a recent article in the Orange County Business Journal.
"It's going back to its beginnings," said Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Ed Fawcett, who watched the center, which opened in 1992, struggle then become briefly vibrant in the 1990s. "The original owners had a successful formula, and I'm encouraged and excited that Greenlaw Partners has approached the project with the same community outreach and commitment to success."
A three-pronged approach — community outreach, strong anchor tenants and shaping the center as a destination — gave Triangle Square a successful initial run; however, the center lost momentum over the years with changes in ownership, he said.
Niketown and Virgin Megastore were two major tenants that left in 2005, a few years before the recession brought about more vacancies.
Greenlaw Partners bought the wedge-shaped property, bordered by 19th Street and Newport and Harbor boulevards, in 2006. Plans of breathing new life into it were announced last year.
With the economy showing signs of recovery, the project is moving forward at an opportune time, said Larry Weichman, board chairman of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
"I think that it's got great potential," he said. "An anchor tenant like the bowling alley will really help that facility be a destination. In the past there has definitely been an outcry for an up-scale bowling alley in town."
But with the new 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport adding weight to other strong anchor tenants, the center could help revitalize the area, he said.
"When you get areas like The Triangle, Metro Pointe or others with quite a few nice facilities together within walking distance to residential neighborhoods, it encourages people to relocate to that part of town," Weichman said. "I think nothing but good things are going to come to that area in the future."