Discovery Cube, Southern California’s leading children’s science museum, today announced the sale of Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest property, the iconic Balboa Fun Zone, to Chartwell Real Estate Development (“Chartwell”). The new owners are longtime residents of Newport Beach and plan to restore the historic landmark and continue to operate the property as the Balboa Fun Zone.
The Museum announced its decision to sell the Balboa Fun Zone in December of 2020 as a result of Covid-19 related financial constraints and sought a new owner who appreciates the history and significance of the beloved property for not only local residents but all who visit the Fun Zone every year. Chartwell’s Operating Partner Henry Pyle led the acquisition on behalf of the Pyle family who have been Newport Beach residents since the 1960’s.
“Selling the Fun Zone was a difficult decision for the museum, 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,” said Joe Adams, CEO of Discovery Cube.
In the agreement, Chartwell has provided for the museum’s education vessel, the Dylan Ayres, to continue to dock at the Fun Zone. The block-long waterfront property includes the existing buildings and a boardwalk which is home to the iconic ferris wheel and adjacent marina.
“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,” said Pyle. “We are grateful to the Museum’s Board of Trustees for entrusting Chartwell with the preservation and restoration of the Fun Zone.”
“The health of our oceans is an important focus area for Discovery Cube, and as such we look forward to introducing new ocean education and conservation exhibits at the Cube. Through our STEM programs, we will find fun and creative ways to highlight our nautical collections. Additionally, we will resume educational voyages on the Dylan Ayres in the Fall.” said Adams. “We are happy to welcome our friends and family back to the Cube and look forward to hosting them at both Los Angeles and Orange County locations; as well as at the Fun Zone which will remain open throughout the transition in ownership.” The Cube reopened to guests on May 28, following an extended closure as a result of the pandemic.
The deal was brokered by Lars Platt and Joseph Lising of Cushman & Wakefield who represented the seller, Discovery Cube. Bob Thagard, also of Cushman & Wakefield, represented the buyer, Chartwell Real Estate Development. The purchase is scheduled to close later this summer.
“I am thrilled to have a local family lead the revitalization of the Fun Zone for our local residents, business owners and visitors and look forward to working with Henry and Chartwell as they develop their plans,” said Newport Beach City Councilwoman Diane Dixon.
About Discovery Cube
The Discovery Science Foundation serves as the educational program development and non-profit arm for Discovery Cube Orange County and Los Angeles. Established in 1989, Discovery Cube continues to inspire, educate and impact millions of young learners through engaging science-based programs, exhibits and interactive adventures. Discovery Cube was named one of the 10 “Most Trusted Brands” in Orange County as well as the award for the National Medal of Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services at The White House. In 2020, Discovery Cube adopted a digital-first approach to content development and virtual science education with the launch of Cube Studios and Discovery Cube Connect. Discovery Cube Connect serves as the digital platform to Discovery Cube’s onsite STEM exhibits as well as interactive and online educational offerings. For more information, visit discoverycube.org and discoverycubeconnect.org
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