Outlet mall developer wins bid for Orange County Fairgrounds

Orange County and the city of Costa Mesa failed to come away with the top bid in the Orange County Fairgrounds auction. State officials opened sealed bids this morning at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, followed by a short auction.

Orange County and Costa Mesa's joint bid of $6.5 million just couldn't compete with the others.

Craig Realty Group came away the winner, bidding $56.5 million. The Newport Beach-based firm dubs itself the "nation's top developer of upscale factory outlet centers." It owns and runs the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles and the Cabazon Outlets near Palm Springs.

But just because Craig Realty put in the highest bid, doesn't mean everything's set in stone just yet. Over the next couple of months, the state needs to review and approve the purchase.

California previously estimated the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds could bring in more than $90 million to help fill the state budget gap. The highest bid is far short of that.

In the meantime, Costa Mesa is trying to get a land use measure on the June ballot that would help keep the fairgrounds a fairgrounds.

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