Discovery Cube sells property to Chartwell Real Estate Development that plans to preserve landmark as a “Fun Zone” for local residents in Balboa Village
Newport Beach CA— Cushman & Wakefield announced the firm has brokered the sale of the Balboa Fun Zone mixed-use entertainment development in Newport Beach, California. Discovery Cube, Southern California’s leading children’s science museum, sold the iconic property to Chartwell Real Estate Development (“Chartwell”) for an undisclosed price.
The new owners are longtime residents of Newport Beach and plan to restore the historic landmark and continue to operate the property as the Balboa Fun Zone. One of Southern California’s oldest amusement parks, Balboa Fun Zone’s history dates back to the early 1900s born from an old boat yard owned by Fred Lewis.
Located at 600 E Bay Ave along the Balboa Harbor adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, the 34,200-square-foot (0.785-acre) property offers 212 feet of waterfront and presently consists of: a boardwalk (Edgewater Place) with the Balboa Ferris Wheel, ±25 boat marina with 775 linear feet of docking, Fun Zone amusement park rides and attractions, 16,660 square feet of mixed-use improvements, and a 58-stall subterranean parking garage.
A Cushman & Wakefield team led by Valuation & Advisory specialist Lars Platt, MAI, CCIM partnered with Retail Investment Sales & Strategic Leasing specialists Joseph Lising and Matthew Godman of the firm’s local Irvine office represented Discovery Cube in facilitating the complex sale. Bob Thagard, also of Cushman & Wakefield, advised the Chartwell Real Estate Development buyer.
“The Fun Zone had not been actively marketed for sale for many decades, and therefore this offering was a true once-in-a-generation investment opportunity to own a piece of Southern California’s storied history,” said Lars Platt. “There is tremendous potential to create future value of this special property situated in one of the most prestigious areas of the world and that contains so many irreplaceable attributes.”
Joseph Lising added, “The strategy to construct our sales team with multi-faceted experts across a wider range of specialties, including Matthew’s strategic leasing and tenant background and Lars’ vast knowledge and experience in valuating diverse property types, marinas, private-public partnership leases and businesses in the Newport Beach and Marina area, proved essential in our ability to market this highly unique property and ultimately bring it to a successful close with a new local owner with a wonderful plan for this site and the community.”
The Museum announced its decision to sell the Balboa Fun Zone in December of 2020 as a result of Covid-19 related financial constraints and sought a new owner who appreciates the history and significance of the beloved property, for not only local residents, but all who visit the Fun Zone every year growing up with cherished family memories.
“Selling the Fun Zone was a difficult decision for the museum, but we were fortunate to partner with Chartwell and the Pyle family who value the historic elements of the Fun Zone and are focused on bringing new life to this iconic local landmark,” said Joe Adams, CEO of Discovery Cube.
“We are excited and honored to assume stewardship of the iconic Balboa Fun Zone and look forward to working with the city and community of Newport Beach to restore this historic 80-year-old landmark,” said Chartwell’s Operating Partner Henry Pyle. “We are grateful to the Museum’s Board of Trustees for entrusting Chartwell with the preservation and restoration of the Fun Zone.”
“Having been born and raised in Newport Beach and with so many fond experiences and memories in my life of this prominent venue and staple of our coastline, I cannot think of a more ideal buyer for this property than the Chartwell team led by the Pyle family,” expressed Bob Thagard, Executive Managing Director.
The Balboa Village situated adjacent to world class developments and attractions including Lido Marina Village, Lido House, Newport Beach, and Balboa Pier draws approximately 3.0± million visitors annually with world class beaches, sailing, sport fishing, whale watching, and The Catalina Flyer. The Balboa Island Ferry connects the community and the Fun Zone property providing a unique service that runs as a main appeal to tourists from around the world and has been in operation since 1919.