Rejected: Bids for OC Fairgrounds

The Orange County Fairgrounds will remain under state ownership... for now.

State officials said they have rejected seven bids to buy the fairgrounds. That means it's back to the drawing board.

Officials still need to find a way to sell the facility to help ease the state's drastic budget  shortfall.

"My initial thoughts are, Wow, thank you for listening Mr. Governor and thanks to all residents and businesses who asked the governor to do the right thing and reject all the bids," Katrina Foley, a Costa Mesa councilwoman, told the OC Register. "We're still not out of the woods yet. We have to figure out what's next. At least we are that much closer to a solution that's going to be in the best interest of Orange County and Costa Mesa."

The state Department of General Services notified the governor that the  bids from private companies, and a government consortium, "are not in the best  interests of the citizens of California."

Director Ronald L. Dietrich told his boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,  that "the department will go forward to explore alternative means to promptly  achieve" the goal of selling the 150-acre property, a huge parcel in the  center of the heavily urbanized area of Costa Mesa, near Newport Beach and  Fountain Valley.

The property was at one time valued at $230 million, but property values  have plummeted since then. The top bid for the land earlier this year was  $56.5 million.

The seven bidders included a partnership between Orange County and the  city of Costa Mesa, which submitted an opening bid of $6.5 million. Orange  County Supervisor John Moorlach had said he was authorized to bid in person up  to $40 million for the land, but dropped out of a bidding session when Craig  Realty made the top bid.

Costa Mesa officials are moving ahead with a ballot measure -- which  could go before voters in June -- that would lock in the property's zoning and  make it nearly impossible to put homes, offices or any other type of  development on the fairgrounds site. 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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