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United Leisure Files Suit to Extend Irvine Co. Lease

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lawyers for a Los Angeles businessman who has threatened to tear down the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre and the Wild Rivers water park in a dispute with his landlord now say he’ll put down the wrecking ball in preparation to duke it out in court.

In an 11th-hour turnaround in legal strategy, attorneys for Harry Shuster, head of United Leisure Corp., on Thursday filed suit in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana to extend the company’s ground lease with the Irvine Co. for 26 more years.

Shuster has been battling recently for the right to tear down the Orange County attractions when the master lease expires today. He has been using the threat of demolition to extract a financial settlement from the Irvine Co. in exchange for leaving those two tenants on the property.

Shuster attorney Wayne Call says his client’s move for a lease extension is a way to protect beloved community attractions and ensure Shuster some economic benefit from their preservation. Call says Shuster sent a letter to the Irvine Co. on Thursday announcing that he intends to pursue an extension of its ground lease.

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“As far as [Shuster] is concerned, the lease has been extended 26 years and the company doesn’t have to tear anything down starting March 1,” Call said. “We think this is good news and reflects Harry Shuster’s desire to find a way to preserve these facilities.”

But Irvine Co. executives dismissed any notion of extending the lease to a tenant it has battled in court for more than a decade.

“It is a silly, laughable 11th-hour stunt and yet another attempt on his part to money that he’s not entitled to,” said Irvine Co. spokesman Larry Thomas.


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