The Irvine City Council has officially approved construction of 5,000 homes on the former El Toro Marine Base. The council’s vote to approve the zone change allows the land redevelopment manager, Five Point Communities, to move forward with the Great Park Neighborhoods. The project, which includes more than 1 million square feet of non-residential use, is expected to generate more than 16,500 jobs. Homes will be ready for sale in 2013.
“This is an historic moment in our city simply because this project is defining the future of Irvine,” Mayor Sukhee Kang told OC Metro. “The project that we approved last night will be a major boost to the economy … Where else in this region can you say that you are creating such a large number of jobs? This was a landmark approval.”
In addition, the city says the Great Park is already generating more than 10,000 jobs – bringing the total number of added jobs to over 26,000. Lucy Dunn, CEO and president of the Orange County Business Council says she is in support of the new development because it will help put Orange County residents back to work in a down economy.
“Recovery of the housing market is critical to Orange County’s economic recovery, “ said Lucy Dunn, CEO of the Orange County Business Council. “The Great Park Neighborhoods project will be a major boost to the local economy through the thousands of jobs it will create and the accompanying infrastructure improvements. But perhaps just as important,” Dunn added, “it signals to other home builders that now is the time to start building again.”
The partnership between the city and Five Point Communities has continued to grow since the company purchased the land from the federal government in 2005. Part of the 4,500 acres purchased by the developer has since been deeded to the city of Irvine to create the Orange County Great Park. Kang said the city will continue to work closely with the developer to insure the project is complementary to the park.
“The working relationship that we have been able to forge over the last years has just begun. We will work with them [Five Point Communities] every step of the way,” said Kang. “Their success is our success.”
The Mayor also said the homes will have a significant long-term financial impact on the Great Park. The former base is now a redevelopment agency area, which allows the city’s redevelopment agency to collect tax increment money over time from reassessed property.
“When values go up, and, for example, a home is sold and reassessed for a higher amount of value, the property tax is higher. That incremental extra amount - not all of it, but most - goes to the redevelopment agency,” said Craig Reem, director of public affairs and communications for the city of Irvine.
According to Reem, the tax increment that would flow to the Great Park over the next several decades is estimated at about $1.4 billion. The Mayor said this will allow the city to continue to build the park in the coming years.
“It is a victory for the community. I am not just talking about Irvine, I am talking regionally,” said Kang. “This project will redefine the city. This will be a great way to create new jobs and opportunities. It will be an economic engine.”
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