Is Mike Harrah Cheating at One Broadway Plaza in Santa Ana?

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Michael F. Harrah's towering project swallows a Viagra.
You may recall the last time I addressed the issue of real-estate developer Mike Harrah's contentious efforts to build Orange County's largest commercial building, the proposed 37-story One Broadway Plaza in Santa Ana.


The article detailed how the Santa Ana City Council had given additional public concessions to Harrah and, despite angry claims by city officials otherwise, was likely to give him whatever he wanted in the future. 

None of that was any surprise to those of us who know about Mayor Miguel Pulido and his subservient relationship to Harrah, a wealthy Newport Beach resident and one of Santa Ana's most aggressive developers. Concessions made by Pulido and his council colleagues prompted a lawsuit by local residents who oppose the project and believe the council has made itself shamelessly beholden to Harrah's desires.

Now, the Weekly has learned that Harrah has apparently singlehandedly added four stories and 82,000-square-feet to the proposed building. This is remarkable because, best we can tell, there has not been a single public hearing held to discuss increasing the size of the already-controversial project. In a bitter 2005 election, residents approved plans for a 37-story building.

We learned of the project change not from Pulido or Harrah directly, but rather from an advertisement Harrah placed in the Feb. 14 edition of Barron's. He wants, he says in the ad, additional investors to participate in One Broadway Plaza, which he describes as "a 41-story, 612,000 [-square-foot], world-class office tower . . . 16 years in the making with all the [government] entitlements and all building permits in place."

The city continues to list the project as 37 stories, as does Harrah's website.

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Harrah's ad for One Broadway Plaza in Barron's

Harrah, the owner of the popular Original Mike's restaurant and someone who is never shy about his greatness, described himself in the ad as the "most prominent real-estate force in the largest city in Orange County, fifth largest U.S. county."

Interestingly, the multimillionaire, who posed poor to get a long list of taxpayer concessions from OC's poorest residents, reports he'll own a $600 million building when it's complete, thanks in part to "substantial pre-lease interest from government-related tenants."

Numerous efforts this morning to reach Harrah or Pulido for comment were not successful.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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