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The Deal That Keeps on Giving: The Gateway Preserve


Image obtained from the City of Irvine Gateway Preserve video

It’s the deal that keeps on giving.

Last year’s agreement among the City, Irvine Company and All American Asphalt has already resulted in the closure of the noxious plant that was making life miserable for thousands of North Irvine residents. Now that deal, brokered by Vice Mayor Larry Agran with Council support, is on the verge of also putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the City’s coffers.

It works like this: Last year’s deal had All American Asphalt agreeing to sell its North Irvine plant and property to the City. The City would then shut the plant down and use the site and adjacent City-owned parcels to create a 700-acre nature preserve. As part of the deal, the Irvine Company agreed to dedicate to the City a 70-acre parcel at Jeffrey Road and Portola Parkway zoned for residential development, which the City would then fully entitle and sell to developers to raise the money to cover the cost of purchasing the plant.

The cost of the asphalt plant purchase and site cleanup was estimated at $330 million, and the sale of the residential property was estimated to just about cover that.

Now, a year later, the bids are in and the Council has accepted Brookfield Residential’s offer of $600-650 million for the land and development rights to what’s been dubbed Gateway Village. That’s almost double the original estimate and an unprecedented windfall for the City! One City Hall insider estimated that the funds could not only cover the cost of the plant purchase and cleanup, but also the creation of the Gateway Open Space Preserve and still leave $200 million or more in the City’s reserves.

The City is now on track to proceed with the Gateway Open Space Preserve, which will include an extension of the Jeffrey Open Space Trail northward from Portola to link with miles of trails in the Gateway Preserve and the 20,000-acre North Open Space Preserve beyond. The Gateway Preserve will consist of restored wild native habitat, with two small groomed parks that will include some amenities and informational displays.

Vice Mayor Agran called the deal “extraordinary” in its scope and impact. “It took a lot of people, a lot of good thinking, and some tough negotiating to work all this out,” he said. “This is going to be a legacy project for our City — preserving hundreds more acres of open space for families to enjoy in the near future … and forever.”

Roger Bloom


Irvine, CA
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