NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — An iconic landmark in the Balboa Peninsula is changing hands.

The Balboa Fun Zone, a popular Newport Beach attraction for more than 80 years, has sold to Costa Mesa-based Chartwell Real Estate Development.

What You Need To Know

  • The Balboa Fun Zone will have a new owner

  • Chartwell Real Estate Development is acquiring the landmark waterfront property from the Discovery Cube

  • Discovery Cube put the property for sale due to financial constraints caused by the coronavirus catalyzed-downturn and shutdown orders

  • Chartwell plans to restore the iconic property

The Discovery Cube, which had owned the property since 2017, sold it to Chartwell. Neither Discovery Cube nor Chartwell disclosed the price. The sale is expected to close sometime this summer.

Chartwell's Operating Partner Henry Pyle, a longtime Newport Beach resident, said they plan to restore the historic aging waterfront property.

"Selling the Fun Zone was a difficult decision for the museum," said Joe Adams, CEO of Discovery Cube, in a statement. "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."

The Balboa Fun Zone has been a Newport Beach landmark for more than 80 years. The coastal amusement area sits along the Balboa Peninsula and has welcomed millions of visitors over the years.

The property features a Ferris Wheel, quarter arcades, a nautical museum and quick-serve restaurants. It's a popular destination for school field trips and tourists.

The Discovery Cube acquired the property through a donation a year after merging with local nonprofit ExplorOcean in 2016.

The Discovery Cube, which owns the Discovery Cube science museums, had planned a multi-million dollar revitalization of the waterfront property as a state-of-the-art marine education center. However, this past year, the nonprofit faced financial constraints caused by the government shutdowns as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Right when we rolled out the [fundraising] campaign, COVID came," Adams told Spectrum News previously. "Nobody is going to contribute to a capital [raising] campaign during COVID."

The Discovery Cube listed the property for sale in December.

Sitting in an ideal location along a waterfront surrounded by multi-million dollar homes, the Fun Zone received several offers.

Once the property came to market, Discovery Cube received 16 offers, Cushman & Wakefield Managing Director Joseph Lising told Spectrum News. Lising, who represented Discovery Cube, did not disclose the price.

"It was important for the Discovery Cube not only to accept the best and highest offer but also to find a buyer who is part of the community, works with the community, and understands the importance of this property," Lising said. "The Fun Zone is not a regular real estate development project. Discovery Cube wanted to find someone to carry on the torch of the Fun Zone for families to celebrate in the generations to come."

Cushman and Wakefield's Lising, Lars Platt, Matthew Godman, and Bob Thagard brokered the sale.

Chartwell officials said they have plans to restore the property but did not get into specifics. Pyle was unavailable for comment on Friday.

As part of the agreement, Discovery Cube's education vessel, the Dylan Ayres, will remain docked at the Fun Zone.

"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," Pyle said in a news release. "We are grateful to the Museum's Board of Trustees for entrusting Chartwell with the preservation and restoration of the Fun Zone."