The Santora Arts Building, the iconic Spanish Colonial style building that anchors Santa Ana's downtown Artists Village, has been sold to Newport Beach resident Jack Jakosky.
Jakosky said in a brief interview that he wants to rekindle the building's art scene, which has been declining in recent years as other businesses fill studios vacated by artists.
“I want to increase the number of art-related tenants,” Jakosky said. “It needs to go back to its roots, frankly, and that's my objective.”
He would not disclose the amount he paid for the building.
A previous sale of the building to Irvine-based Newsong Church was scuttled after downtown artists and other residents, fearing that a church would restrict artistic freedom and kill the emerging downtown vibe, protested the deal.
The building, which is also home to Voice of OC, has been the focus of a debate regarding the role of arts downtown. A city plan to revitalize this portion of downtown, known as Artists Village, has proven successful in recent years as the Santora and the blocks surrounding it have become a thriving restaurant and bar scene.
But as the restaurants flourished, the artists that made the area trendy in the first place began to lose their foothold in the building.
The building's previous owner, Mike Harrah, was required in a 1990s redevelopment deal to have at least 80 percent of the building's leasable space dedicated to the arts. But that provision expired in 2011, and artists have been vanishing from the building only to be replaced by other businesses, including several law firms.
The gentrification led the artists to band together and form an activist group, United Artists of Santa Ana. The group met regularly in recent years but has faced divisions recently, particularly over a city-commissioned project to paint a mural.
Meanwhile, Harrah was reportedly planning to use revenue from the building sale to finance construction of the 37-story One Broadway Plaza near downtown, first approved by the City Council in 2004. Gil Marrero, Harrah's real estate agent, said that was part of Harrah's financing plan last year.
However, when reached by phone this week, Harrah denied that was the case. He had no comment on the Santora sale. He said he wasn't sure when ground would break on the tower but that the project is “moving along.”