Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

Don’t be fooled for one minute – when the Newsong Church pulled out of escrow and walked away from their agreement to buy Downtown Santa Ana’s Santora building it really did not have much to do with the owner of the Santora, Mike Harrah.  They pulled out, according to an insider I spoke to on Friday, because they had enough of the crazed artists at the Santora – and their pugnacious leader, Alicia Rojas.  I can’t blame Newsong’s leaders one bit for getting out of Dodge.

The shame of it is that Newsong would have brought a huge influx of new blood into a Downtown Santa Ana that is starting to get a bit stale.  Oh sure we have a bunch of new high-end restaurants and plenty of hipster bars to get drunk at (which is ironic as what set off redevelopment in the area originally was former City Manager Dave Ream’s dislike for the Mexican bars that were once ubiquitous in Downtown Santa Ana).

Speaking of redevelopment it is gone now, the rug have been pulled out from us by Governor Jerry Brown, and so is Cindy Nelson, who love her or hate her knew how to work the system and did so to great effect over the years.  Who will drive change in Downtown Santa Ana now? We now have a gaping void in the center of our city.

The Artists Village has produced a couple of great stories – the O.C. High School of the Arts, the CSUF Grand Central Art Center, and OCCAA.  But the Santora building continues to be populated, for the most part, by artists who would not thrive in established art communities, such as Laguna Beach, and don’t do well here either, for the most part.

Harrah is no longer contractually bound to protect these mostly low grade artists.  And that means that when he finds a new buyer for the Santora, all bets are off.  Even now if you stroll into the Santora you will see that there are existing businesses that are not involved at the arts.  That trend will surely continue.  And it should.

It is too late for the artists to rally their pocket change and buy their own building.  The Artists Village scheme was designed to increase property prices and it did.  The Santora artists should think about going off-Broadway, way off, and buying their own building somewhere east, west or south of the Artists Village.  It is time for an artist diaspora!

What’s next then in our Downtown?  The City of Santa Ana has no money and not much direction to offer.  Don’t look to the Feds or the State.  And after what happened to Newsong, it may be tough for Harrah to line up another buyer for the Santora.  That aside, where do we go from here?

The Artists Village still does not benefit the people at large in our city.  We still lack many of the entertainment and shopping opportunities easily found in our neighboring cities, in Tustin, Orange and Irvine.  You want to go bowling in Santa Ana?  Good luck with that.  You want to take your kid to a Chuck E. Cheese in Santa Ana?  Sorry, no such options.  You want to go shop at a Toys R’ Us here in town?  Sorry.  That store closed – you will have to drive to Tustin.  Costco?  Nope.  Sam’s Club?  No.  First run movie theater?  No, but the two dollar theater at MainPlace is pretty cool.  You will have to get in a car and drive if you want to see Madagascar 3 – at least until it ends up at the Mainplace Theater, perhaps in August or September.

Brea took a different route when they redeveloped their Downtown.  It is now a fun place to hang out.  But their history is gone.  Orange saved their historic elements and slowly added restaurants to their Downtown until they arrived at a nice mix of tenants.  The Huntington Beach is replete with nice restaurants (well perhaps a bit touristy) where you can  buy a margarita, not so in Downtown Santa Ana, ironically.

Who will lead the way in Downtown Santa Ana?  Not the angry artists.  Not Irv Chase.  Not Downtown Inc., although they get credit for trying.  Not the City of Santa Ana.  Certainly not the screaming Prima Donna Don Cribb and his vaunted “gay underground.”  Newsong’s minister, Dave Gibbons, would have brought a new vision to our Downtown.  That won’t be happening now.  So what’s next?

I don’t have an answer to that question but I do know this – Harrah’s One Broadway Plaza Tower is going to get built.  And it will be a game changer in our city.  If anyone is going to drive change in Downtown Santa Ana it might as well be the guy who restored so many of our historic buildings.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

20 thoughts on “Who will lead the next revolution in Downtown Santa Ana?”
  1. Crap. I hate it when I agree with you but, you are right on most of it. I find it incredible the artists attacked Newsong church. They would have been great, preserved the art coliny and added to the downtiwn are.

    Harrah still has to sell Santora (and Original Mike’s) to build 1 Harrah… er, I mean, Broadway where the city council may or may not have shiny new offices, now that they cannot help move the procwss along. RDA is dead. This form of corporate welfare (there are others) was particularly egregious and one of theubiquitous shadow governments that should have fallen long ago.

    Where is that capitalism the Republicans are always talking about as the cure for what ails governmwnt? The Santora is prine real estate to make money from provided the investor could atomach the artists and there socialist views.

  2. Admin, funny how you set forth to degrade the artists at the exact moment when they have gained the most respectability of any business/activists group downtown. Nobody was capable of uniting the different ethnic groups and business interests like they have. It should be especially noted that Dave Gibbons(Newsong) and Alicia Rojas are on perfectly fine terms. In fact I imagine that they will be collaborating on different projects within months. If Newsong was being honest in their desire to upgrade the Village than let’s look forward to the peace making process that already seems to be in swing. The Arts need capital, but Capitalism is destructive to culture. Think outside the box. Just like Newsong is going to have to.

  3. Mateo, why should the artists get priviledge? They and thier art should be able to pay their own way. If they can’t, and their patrons aren’t willing to stand up, why should the owner, regardless of who that may be, have to be on the hook for rent? Just because someone calls themselves an artist, doesn’t make them one.

    Perhaps the artists should get their patrons to contribute to a fund to purchase the building. That would solve all their problems, right?

  4. Jeff why dont you come visit. We can share ideas about who qualifies as an artist and who does not. We might have common opinions. In the mean time please do not participate in the false propaganda that “The Artists” are looking for special treatment. “The Artists” are looking to actively participate in the best business model to fit the idea of a rejuvenated, healthy, creative and prosperous downtown. This is what Downtown Inc. and the Restaurant assoc. and others are looking for as well. Short-sightedness is not good business, and neither is abandonment of government tax investment.
    Admin, don’t blame the Artists Village because they don’t have Chuckie Cheese. O.k. Cheeseball? Chuckie Cheese did not feel safe there before the Arts came to town.

    1. I had a long talk on Friday with one of the founders of the Artists Village. Trust me when I tell you that he is not impressed by your rabble.

      Laugh while you can. You may have run off Newsong but Harrah will not rest until he sells the Santora. And the next batch of owners will probably tell you and Alicia to take a hike.

  5. Like the song suggests, we get by with the help of our friends.

    Fiala = U.A.S.A. member
    (racist for dramatic effect)

    Vern Dog = U.A.S.A. member
    (bleeding heart for dramatic effect)

    Anonymous Founding Father?
    fake U.A.S.A. supporter.

    1. I seem to recall a lot of racist remarks from many of your members, against Koreans, when the Newsong desk was first announced. And a lot of anti-Christian comments too…

  6. Alicia Rojas is not pugnacious. She does a hard job very well, holding together a coalation of pugnacious flamethrowers and mellow artists, while negotiating with city, capitalists, and Christians.

    Art finds Alicia pugnacious simply because she won’t put up with HIS shit any more. As will nobody. I don’t expect to ever see Art in that area again. I never see him anywhere. He doesn’t dare to leave his basement any more.

    Why did you drag me over here, Matt? Have fun guys…

    1. I have better things to do Vern. I would rather spend time with my family than hang out with your obnoxious leftwing friends.

  7. “Fiala = U.A.S.A. member
    (racist for dramatic effect)

    Vern Dog = U.A.S.A. member
    (bleeding heart for dramatic effect)

    Anonymous Founding Father?
    fake U.A.S.A. supporter.”…………. Hmmmmmmmm

    I am not surprised that you are starving artist, mateo.

    Most of the 19 and early 20 century artist died from the syphilis, did you already got your AIDS?

  8. One of the reasons I love this blog is because you use the Donald Sterling Photo style. Love the vintage Cindy Nelson photo and the drawing of Don Cribb! Kudos to your photo department.

  9. Maybe Mike Tardif AKA Skallywag AKA Junior can explain away how his beloved Fr. Hollywood (Fr. Harris) raped another child at Mater Dei.

    This guy is as disgusting as the other ENABLERS: Matt “Jubal” Cunningham, The recently deceased Tom Fuentes and of course our own DA.

    It’s not OK to have the Chivas play in Santa Ana, or to sell Marijuana to dying people, but it’s OK to give it up the A** to a fourteen year old boy.

    This guy should be banned from EVERY BLOG. What a creep.

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