Nearly a decade ago, as Irvine officials developed plans to transform a shuttered military base into a grand municipal park, a key to the plan was building thousands of surrounding homes to generate tax money and fuel the park's growth.
The recession hit, the homes were delayed and -- in a crowning blow -- the state eliminated redevelopment agencies, taking away the park's main funding source. The city spent millions, but only small portions of the ambitious Great Park have been built.
But now, the homes are finally arriving, some going on the market as soon as this weekend.
"People will never know what went into making this a reality," said Emile Haddad, president and chief executive of Five Point Communities, the home developer.
Thirty-one model homes will be open to viewing by potential homebuyers starting Saturday. Eventually, thousands more will be built in the area north of the park.
The community known as Pavilion Park includes homes that will cost between $700,000 and $1.5 million.
In order to continue building the Great Park -- and provide an additional amenity to their homebuyers -- Haddad and a team of partners have proposed developing 688 acres of the park for $174 million. In exchange, the developers would be allowed to build more than 4,000 additional homes on the east side of the Great Park.
The plan is a scaled-down version of the Great Park's original aspiring design. It includes a 176-acre sports complex, a woodlands area, and an 18-hole golf course and a 36-acre canyon.
Irvine city officials are expected to decide whether to move forward with the plan over the next couple of months.
The developer is tossing in one additional incentive.
Each new homeowner will be given a bright orange bicycle, presumably to ride in the park.