Kobe Bryant’s new Kobe Inc. moving into West Newport

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant is bringing his new company, Kobe Inc., to west Newport Beach, where the City Council has approved sale of a city-owned property for Kobe Inc.'s global headquarters. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kobe Bryant’s new company is setting up shop in the famed basketball player’s hometown.

Council members authorized the sale Tuesday of a city-owned property in West Newport Beach to Kobe Inc. for use as a global headquarters.

The roughly 1-acre site, at 1499 Monrovia Ave., includes a 16,550 square foot office building, where Road and Track Magazine used to operate. It was sold for $5.8 million.

“I am thrilled Mr. Bryant chose Newport Beach,” Councilman Keith Curry said.

The office building will be refurbished and remodeled, said Kobe Inc. President Andrea Fairchild, who now also lives in Newport Beach.

“We look to be a very vibrant member of the community,” she added.

In addition to its business operations, the company expects to support physical health and wellness in the community, Fairchild said.

Bryant said earlier that there could be opportunity for international sports stars to interact with young people in the community, according to Curry.

Kobe Inc. was set up in 2013, according to Forbes. The basketball star described its mission to the news outlet as “to own and grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring the world.”

Its first investment was expected to be $4-$6 million to support development of sports drink BodyArmor, Forbes reported.

Although he supported Bryant’s program, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich said a different location should have been chosen.

The industrial site was re-zoned in 2010 for residential use. A 10-year extension was given to the previous owner in 2012 to continue the site’s commercial and office use, but that expires Feb. 1, 2022, meaning Kobe Inc.'s operations would then be nonconforming.

A possible extension of 15th Street also could reduce available parking below the amount required.

“We’re just going to be forcing a future City Council to come up with some kind of a jerry-rig solution,” Selich said, later concluding, “I just think that it’s really bad public policy to do a sale of this nature and I’m opposed to it.”

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who voted against the sale along with Selich, also warned that the city’s long-term interests needed to supersede hype that comes with Bryant’s name.

The site previously had been suggested as a possible place for a west Newport community center, but staffers concluded it was too small. Instead, revenue from the sale will be saved in the West Newport Capital Projects Fund.

Councilman Mike Henn was absent from the meeting.

“Congratulations,” Curry said to Fairchild, shaking her hand after the 4-2 vote at the meeting’s conclusion and welcoming the company to town.