An Orange County icon has changed hands! Balboa Fun Zone, the beloved entertainment complex located at 600 E. Bay Ave. on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula, has been a local landmark – not to mention frequent film star – ever since it was first established over eight decades ago. But, like so many places across the world, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the site hard, forcing a nearly year-long shuttering of many of its attractions that resulted in beleaguered owner, Discovery Cube, listing it for sale last December at an undisclosed price. The property was picked up just six months later by the OC-based Chartwell Real Estate Development company and escrow closed September 1. While the sales price is also undisclosed, a quick check of property records reveals it to be a cool $21 million. Lars Platt and Joseph Lising of Cushman & Wakefield represented Discovery Cube, while Bob Thagard and Matthew Godman, also of Cushman & Wakefield, backed Chartwell.
Perched along 212 feet of idyllic Newport Bay waterfront, the historic mixed-use development was the brainchild of Al Anderson, who, in 1936, built a small fun park on leased land that originally housed a boatyard. The Fun Zone has since become part of the framework of the city, touching the lives of generation after generation of both OC locals and tourists alike.
Gary Sherwin, president and CEO of Visit Newport Beach, told Spectrum News 1, “Of all the places in Orange County, this place is the embodiment, the essence of the Orange County experience. You’re strolling along the boardwalk, enjoying the weather on a summer night, grabbing a dessert, and hopping on the Ferris wheel or one of the other rides. This is our own mini Coney Island. There is a Southern California feel to it. People from all around the world come here.”
And now, thanks to Chartwell, the Fun Zone is entering a new phase!