Developer to Renovate Warehouse as Part of Old Irvine Ranch Center : REAL ESTATE

Compiled by Michael Flagg, Times Staff Writer

A developer will renovate a 93-year-old warehouse that used to be used to store lima beans on the Irvine Ranch and convert it to shops, offices and a restaurant as part of the renovation of the old Irvine Ranch town center.

Three other buildings are already being restored: A two-story general store built in 1911; a two-story hotel built in 1913, and a one-story bungalow built in 1915 as the home of the ranch foreman.

And two buildings have already been renovated on the seven-acre site, which is in the City of Irvine between Interstate 5 and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks near Sand Canyon Avenue. Those two buildings are the former blacksmith shop, which now houses a hamburger restaurant called Knowl-Wood’s, and a silo granary built in 1947 that now houses a 148-room La Quinta Motor Inn.

The developer is Sand Canyon Historical Developers, which includes general partner Robert Smith and partners Michael D. Ray and James Ray. Their construction firm, J. Ray Construction Co. of Irvine, is general contractor for the project.


The Irvine Ranch, formed by the Irvine family from large Spanish land grants in the 19th Century, raised lima beans and cattle. James Irvine is said to have introduced lima beans to Orange County in the early 1900s. Until the federal government bought the 20,000 acres that is now El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the Irvine Ranch was the world’s largest producer of lima beans, said Smith.

The Irvine Co. is now developing much of the old ranch land, and the company is a limited partner in the Old Town Irvine project.

The warehouse, which has 22,000 square feet, will contain an 8,000-square-foot restaurant called Tia Juana’s. Scher-Voit Commercial Brokerage Co. is seeking tenants for the rest of the building.

The project is two miles away from the Irvine Spectrum, a huge Irvine Co. office and industrial park at the junction of Interstates 5 and 405.