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Judge OKs Irvine Ranch Market’s Newport Changeover

Times Staff Writer

A federal judge Thursday cleared the way for Irvine Ranch Farmers Market at Fashion Island to be transformed Sunday night into another upscale grocery store.

U.S. District Judge John E. Ryan agreed that the bankrupt Irvine Ranch chain can reject its lease with the Irvine Co., owner of the plush Newport Beach shopping center. The Fashion Island store will close Sunday and reopen Monday as Pacific Ranch Market.

During a court hearing Thursday, Irvine Ranch attorney Marc Winthrop said the chain needed to abandon its Fashion Island lease because of the financial drain that he and others projected would become a $55,000 to $90,000 monthly negative cash flow if it continued to operate the store.

The Irvine Ranch chain--which operates 11 Southland stores--filed for protection from creditors under federal bankruptcy law in late July. An investor group headed by the owner of Chalet Gourmet grocery in Los Angeles has agreed to put up to $4 million into the chain in exchange for a controlling interest.

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The renamed Fashion Island store will be a scaled-down operation. Instead of the 63,000 square feet occupied by Irvine Ranch, Pacific Ranch will be roughly 30,000 feet.

The Irvine Co. is considering adding a restaurant and other tenants in the soon-to-be vacant 30,000 square feet--hopefully within six months.


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