Garden Grove Ready for Next Deal

Times Staff Writer

With a proposal for a Las Vegas-style casino scrapped before it ever took flight, Garden Grove’s hope for developing an economic engine is back to Plan A: Turn Harbor Boulevard into a cavalcade of commercial and tourism hot spots.

City Manager Matt Fertal said Wednesday that officials will continue marketing the proposed International West in hopes that Garden Grove will eventually have an avenue of theme parks, restaurants and retail stores modeled after Orlando’s International Drive.

But the 18-month campaign has yet to woo any suitors.

“This is not untypical of any type of development pursuit, but it is a tedious process,” Fertal said. “There’s no timeline; you just never know when that connection is going to be made.”


Steve Wynn, the casino magnate who helped revitalize Las Vegas with the Treasure Island and Bellagio hotels, met with Garden Grove officials in May about a resort on Harbor Boulevard. Wynn later said no negotiations were taking place.

If the proposal had passed, the city would have sold the land, through the Department of the Interior, to the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County.

In front of a contentious crowd of residents Tuesday, Garden Grove’s City Council unanimously voted against a casino, which would have been constructed one mile south of the Disneyland Resort.

Garden Grove Mayor Bruce A. Broadwater said that even if a majority of council members or city voters were in favor of a casino, there would have been too much outside opposition.

“You get all these dynamics opposed to it,” he said. “Who would have more muscle? The city of Garden Grove or Disney?”

For now, the city will continue to pitch International West to prospective investors.

The city plans to send a delegation to a theme park convention in November, a hotel convention in January and a shopping mall convention in May.

But there are no immediate plans for redeveloping the stretch of Harbor Boulevard between Chapman Avenue and the Garden Grove Freeway.


“We’ve got some acreage available,” Broadwater said, “and ideas are springing up all the time.”