The top executives of the company that owns the Bolsa Chica wetlands resigned Tuesday, ceding management of the publicly traded operation to the chairman and the president of Koll Co.
The Bolsa Chica Co. also said it will move its legal headquarters from Hampton, N.H., to Newport Beach, where Koll Co. is based.
Donald M. Koll, 59, founder and chairman of Koll Co., will add the post of Bolsa Chica Co. chairman to his portfolio. Koll Co. President Ray Wirta, 49, will assume the additional job of Bolsa Chica Co. president.
Koll Co. has been managing the environmentally sensitive 1,700-acre Bolsa Chica property under contract since late 1989.
Koll spokesman Dick Ortwein said the changes do not mean that Koll Co. now owns or controls Bolsa Chica Co., which is traded in the over-the-counter market and has about 30,000 shareholders.
But he added that while "this is not a big corporate buyout," Koll Co. may "make a modification" of Bolas Chica Co.'s ownership in the future.
As part of the restructuring announced Tuesday, Koll Co. said it has assumed the management of two other Bolsa Chica Co. properties: the Wentworth Hotel in Hampton Beach, N.H., and 300,000 acres of forested land in Michigan and Wisconsin, bordering Lake Superior.
Michael Dingman, 61, Bolsa Chica Co.'s chairman and chief executive since 1989, and Paul M. Montrone, 51, the company's vice chairman since 1990, have resigned.
The Bolsa Chica Co. also selected two new directors: Paul C. Hegness, a partner with the law firm Good, Wildman, Hegness & Walley of Newport Beach; and Marco F. Vitulli, president of Vitulli Ventures Ltd. of Bellevue, Wash.
The management changes make sense from a standpoint of operating efficiency, said Terry Dolton, president of Amigos de Bolsa Chica, an environmental group dedicated to protecting the wetlands on the property.
The Koll Co. has been trying to win city approval to build more than 4,800 homes on 400 acres surrounding the wetlands, but "has been in a position where they have had to refer all decisions to New Hampshire," Dolton said.
But Ralph Bauer, a Huntington Beach city councilman, said the changes could signal financial trouble for the project, which he opposes.
"Why would (the Bolsa Chica Co.) willingly give up asset management if they don't have a problem?" Bauer questioned, referring to the timber and hotel properties.
Ortwein, however, said the management changes were not prompted by financial considerations.
In 1992, Bolsa Chica Co. reported a loss of $38.4 million, or $1.32 a share, on revenue of $37.2 million.
Although it announced the restructuring after the market closed Tuesday, Bolsa Chica Co.'s stock fell 6 cents to close at 22 cents a share.