CORONA DEL MAR — It's been nine months since longtime tenant Honeybaked Ham closed its doors at 3700 E. Coast Hwy., and a local business owner this week complained that the vacant property has become "a real eyesore."
But according to property owner Myrtle Cox, a lease has recently been signed and improvements should begin within the next month. She also confirmed that a bank will be the new tenant.
"We're just finalizing the lease," Cox said. "It's taken forever. But it should look better soon."
She declined to name the bank that will move into the space, but she said they were going to be a long-term business and would be making improvements.
"It's going to be good-looking," she said.
At the recent Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board meeting John Blom, of John L. Blom Custom Photography, said that the property had been neglected.
"It's getting to look like a scumbag place," he said.
Blom's business is in the same block at 3732 E. Coast Hwy.
The water had been turned off, he said, so foliage was dying, and a Dumpster was left for weeks, attracting overflow trash from residents.
B.I.D. members discussed whether to ask the Newport Beach code enforcement inspectors to take a look at the property to see if there are any citable offenses.
Cox said the problems should be resolved quickly.
"I apologize to the community," Cox said in an interview. "The community is of concern for us, as well. I want it to look nice."
Twice, she said, she thought she had lease agreements in place only to have them fall through. Parking restrictions were a major roadblock, she said.
"We really wanted maybe a nice restaurant," she said. "But the city has parking requirements, which they should, but it limited the options."
According to city business license listings, Honeybaked Ham had a business license from 1977 until Dec. 31, 2011. A sign was placed in the window, announcing it would close permanently after the holidays last year. On Jan. 17, crews removed the shop's signage from the storefront.
The announcement of another bank opening is the latest of a recent influx of branch openings in Corona del Mar.
A Farmers & Merchants Bank is currently under construction at 2421 E. Coast Hwy., an Opus Bank branch will open at 3748 E. Coast Hwy., and a Union Bank branch opened in February at 2864 E. Coast Hwy.