Orange County News

Developer proposes Great Park plan, offers millions

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Big changes are coming to the Orange County Great Park: Under a new proposal, nearly 700 acres of the Orange County Great Park will be filled with sports fields and trails as well as a golf course. Some are calling it a West Coast version of New York's Central Park. The site encompasses the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

The plan is proposed by developer FivePoint Communities, which is already putting in nearly 5,000 homes at the former El Toro Marine Corps base. FivePoint will pay about $200 million to build the sports amenities in five years.

"It will include probably one of the largest sports villages in the country: football, competition and training," said Emile Haddad, FivePoint Communities CEO.

In exchange, under the proposal FivePoint Communities would be allowed to build 4,600 additional homes in neighborhoods on the eastern perimeter of the park.

The space is to be converted from commercial to residential. The Irvine City Council approved the proposal after a 10-hour meeting.

"I think we got a great deal for the citizens of Irvine," said Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway. "We're going to be able to follow through with our promise."

The Great Park has seen many ups and downs since 2005 when the federal government sold the land. The recession hit, then the state eliminated redevelopment money last year, $1.4 billion that the city had hoped could pay for the master park plan.

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi says he's happy with the developer's offer.

"More than 50 percent of the park will be highly developed in five years," said Choi. "That's in my lifetime."

Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom says she believes council moved too quickly and worries the public space won't be so open to others.

"Leveraging 688 acres of public land in order to create both the commercial sports complex, and yes of course, wherever people go -- Disneyland is good for the public too -- it's just that there's a gate fee," said Krom.

"All the facilities we're building are open to the residents of Irvine and the residents of the community," said Haddad.

The developer also agreed to pay an extra $10 million to the city to improve the main entrance into the park.

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real estate, orange county news, eileen frere
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