Village Market to be sold

The Balboa Village Market’s days are coming to an end. The property’s owner, Leo Gugasian, has agreed to sell it to Newport Beach, city officials said Wednesday.

The old brick building, which has changed hands several times over the years, has been around since 1938. Gugasian, a prominent businessman in Newport Beach who also owns 21 Oceanfront restaurant and the Balboa Pavilion, bought the building in 2006.

He referred all comments to Newport Beach city officials.

Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood said the City Council could possibly approve the deal at its Jan. 12 meeting. She declined to say how much the city would pay for the property, but said it will likely be turned into a surface parking lot.

With businesses in the area struggling, city leaders hope that more parking will inject some life into the area.

“I’m really excited about that,” said Scott McElroy, general manager for the Segway Orange County store near the market. “The whole area needs to be upgraded.”

McElroy and others are counting on the city preserving the vibrant mural on one of the building’s walls or at least, having a new one painted after the building is demolished.

“Frankly, the council has always been really receptive to any kind of preservation of historical assets. I think you’ll see a big push,” McElroy said.

City leaders will have to evaluate the historical and cultural value of the mural — which depicts life on the Balboa Peninsula — and what it’s worth to salvage it.

The 2,140-square-foot mural was dedicated July 1, 1995, and was painted by Donald MacDonald. The Balboa Merchants Assn. sponsored the painting.

Dayna Pettit, a local resident, vowed to fight any deal that would tear down the wall.

“It took a real effort to get that mural painted. It’s been there and become a real landmark,” she said. “It isn’t just a little local artist that did something.”

McElroy said the Segway company’s tours of Newport Beach include customers posing in front of the wall for a picture.

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