Smith: A pedestrian mall for The Triangle

Several years ago, I called Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square the Bermuda Triangle Square, as it seemed to be where businesses went to disappear.

In the roughly 20 years since it opened, the center has hosted a Niketown, Virgin Records (where they answered the phone, “Virgin Records Newport Beach”), Gap, Barnes & Noble, Johnny Rockets and many more. The only places that have thwarted the hex are the Yardhouse, Sutra Lounge and the movie theaters.

The mall was so bad that the average number of stars on Yelp is two.

Now, however, there is no more Triangle Square. A $20-million renovation is nearly complete and the mall, now called The Triangle, will house several new businesses, including El Corazon de Costa Mesa and Saddle Ranch Chop House. H20 Sushi will replace Sushi Zen, which is now on the street level. Way down below street level, the 24 Hour Fitness hums.

The theaters are already thriving because the management there has figured out that by charging less in off-peak hours, they can attract people who would otherwise choose a different form of entertainment. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, first-run movies are $4. On Wednesdays, anyone older than 55 gets in for four bucks too. Gee, what a concept.

The theaters are nice, with comfortable seating and excellent sound.

As happy as I am to see the activity at The Triangle, I am hoping that Costa Mesa’s new Planning Commission lineup will consider an idea I floated a few years go.

I’d like to see Harbor Boulevard closed from 19th Street to Newport Boulevard to create a pedestrian mall and connect The Triangle with the Costa Mesa Courtyard shopping center across the street.

When completed, the mall would have tables and chairs, kiosks, maybe some food trucks, and certainly some other interesting attractions. Think a Downtown Disney atmosphere that would benefit both centers and provide Costa Mesa with a superb center for nightlife.

If the idea sounds far-fetched because of the traffic that flows through that tiny section of Harbor, I want to remind you that in New York they closed part of Times Square for pedestrians, and in Las Vegas, three blocks of Fremont Street were closed to create a semi-indoor mall that attracts thousands of visitors a day. Traffic has not suffered at all.

There is one more advantage. I did a rough calculation by walking around the proposed pedestrian mall area and it seems as though it is about even on all four sides. So I’m going to suggest that we call it Triangle Square. That has a nice ring to it.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to