Irvine Co. Plays Key Role in Shaping County’s Growth

It began more than 90 years ago as a sheep and cattle ranch sprawling over much of Orange County.

Today, the Irvine Co. is still the largest private landholder in California, with property stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Riverside and San Bernardino county lines.

The mammoth land development company’s 68,000 acres, valued at about $3 billion, make up a sixth of Orange County.

It has shaped the county’s growth. In the early 1960s, the Irvine Ranch decided to create a “new town” on some of its vast acreage: the result is the City of Irvine. Later, the ranch lobbied heavily for a major university and donated 1,000 acres to the University of California system. UC Irvine was created.


In 1983, Donald L. Bren took control of the company and increased his ownership to 92%. Since then, he has directed the company toward development of apartments and houses more affordable to first-time buyers and the creation of high-technology industrial parks.

Today, the Irvine Co. owns lands under major commercial and industrial development throughout Orange County, including most of Newport Center. It also owns tens of thousands of acres of undeveloped land.