COSTA MESA : Council to Consider Large Retail Center

Plans to build a 400,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex across the street from South Coast Plaza will come before the City Council for a vote Aug. 15.

Arnel Development Co.'s proposal calls for the construction of movie theaters, restaurants and several discount department stores as well as other smaller shops on vacant land between the San Diego Freeway and South Coast Drive.

The Planning Commission gave preliminary approval for the project last week. If approved, construction on the complex could begin later this year, city officials said. The center might open by Christmas, 1995.

The shopping center would be built next to two office towers in the Metro Pointe development near South Coast Drive and Bear Street.


A development agreement signed several years ago reserved the land for a 1-million-square-foot office complex complete with six high-rise buildings.

But Arnel officials this year asked the city to modify the agreement to allow for a smaller shopping development, saying there was strong demand for another retail center in the area.

City officials said they supported Arnel’s decision to reduce the intensity of the development. Alice Angus, Costa Mesa’s senior planner, said that a recent update of the city’s general plan called for less building in the area than was outlined in Arnel’s original development agreement.

“The city is favorable to lower density levels,” Angus said.


The shopping center would include 2,500 parking spaces as well as a bridge that would direct customers from one of the parking structures to the main shopping area.

A multiscreen Edwards cinema as well as some restaurants would anchor the west end of the complex, while several “big box” discount stores such as Marshall’s and Nordstrom’s Rack would be built on the east end. The developer also plans to locate a bookstore as well as clothing shops and an electronics store in the center.

No direct link is planned between Metro Pointe and South Coast Plaza. But shoppers can travel between the two malls simply by walking across Bear Street.

Driving to the site will become easier in the coming months when an off-ramp from the San Diego Freeway to South Coast Drive is completed. Construction of the ramp is now underway along the northbound side of the freeway between Fairview Road and Bristol Street.