Work Begins on About 40 New Stores and Movie Complex at Fashion Island : RETAILING

Compiled by Mary Ann Galante, Times staff writer

Newport Center Fashion Island has kicked off the final phase of a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Plans call for a $30-million face-lift that will add 70,000 square feet of retail space--or about 40 new stores--plus an outdoor food court and a 1,300-car parking deck.

The remodeling will also add entertainment features that have long been on the drawing boards for Orange County's most exclusive mall. Work is under way on a seven-screen movie theater and an outdoor performance plaza.

The construction is part of an ongoing effort to spiff up the aging but profitable 21-year-old mall, which is facing a tougher battle for customers these days as several of its Orange County competitors also rush to renovate. Main Place/Santa Ana finished its costly renovation in September. South Coast Plaza has expanded over the past two years. Brea Mall plans a $125-million renovation. And Westminster Mall is undergoing a 2 1/2-year remodeling.

Fashion Island's massive renovation started in mid-1985, with the addition of the fancy Atrium Court, which has since become one of the Southland's busiest lunch spots. About 7,500 square feet of retail space and 500 parking spaces were added in 1986. And by late last year, Fashion Island had added two restaurants and remodeled several existing buildings with Mediterranean-style architecture.

The renovation of existing buildings and construction of the parking deck is scheduled to be finished by fall. After that, retailers can move in and start remodeling the interiors of their individual stores. "We anticipate about half the retailers will be open for business by the holidays," said Eileen Bohen, mall spokeswoman, with the rest finishing sometime after.

The food court, performance plaza and movie theaters should open in spring 1989.

Fashion Island is owned by the Irvine Co. The 1.2-million-square-foot center had 1987 gross sales of about $217 million, or roughly the same as the year before, Bohen said.

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