Irvine OKs Deal to Get Monorail Link on Line : Transit: McDonnell Douglas Realty Co. will build a half-mile link from the airport in exchange for extra office space.


Clearing the way for the first leg of a monorail system, the City Council late Tuesday night approved a deal that gives a developer a substantial increase in square footage for an office project in exchange for building the first half mile of track.

The deal, approved earlier this month by the city Planning Commission, entitles McDonnell Douglas Realty Co. to an extra 195,000 square feet for a pair of office towers proposed for the Irvine Business Complex.

Under the agreement, the company will build a half-mile monorail link from John Wayne Airport to the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Douglas Street in the Irvine Business Complex.

The company will build the second office tower only after completion of the monorail, which is scheduled for 1992.


Councilwoman Sally Anne Sheridan had appealed the commission’s decision, complaining that potential profits from the extra square footage, equivalent to 11 extra stories, would outstrip the estimated $9 million it will cost to build the monorail across MacArthur Boulevard.

Sheridan said she was not opposed to the concept of a monorail, but objected to the terms of the deal with McDonnell Douglas.

“Approving two 23-story office buildings with an 11-story (addition), is certainly a giveaway,” Sheridan said.

However, after McDonnell Douglas officials agreed to contribute $100,000 toward a study on the traffic impact of the monorail, Sheridan withdrew her objections and voted with her colleagues to approve the agreement, 4 to 0.

The half-mile monorail project that McDonnell Douglas plans to build would connect to a planned five-mile loop around the business complex and would eventually be linked to other proposed monorail projects in Santa Ana, Orange, Costa Mesa and Anaheim.

The entire loop is projected to cost $80 million.

The council also voted to allow McDonnell Douglas to apply for building permits on the project, despite a moratorium since December on all new development in the Irvine Business Complex, a 2,500-acre commercial area adjacent to the airport.

The moratorium is in effect while the city revises its general plan, a blueprint for development, with regard to the business complex. New plans for the area are expected to come before the council this summer.

City officials are counting on passage of Proposition 116 on Tuesday’s ballot to fund the monorail project. The proposition is a bond measure that would raise $1.9 billion for light-rail and other transportation projects. Of that, $125 million is earmarked for the Irvine monorail.

In addition to building 4 1/2 miles of the loop around the Irvine Business Complex, Proposition 116 funds would pay for a 10-mile monorail extension to the Irvine Spectrum.

The 10-mile extension is expected to cost at least $150 million. Officials hope to complete the project by 1995.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don R. Roth, who has endorsed Sheridan in her bid for mayor, said earlier Tuesday that he was “very distressed” about Sheridan’s opposition to the McDonnell Douglas agreement, because of its potential to delay improvements to Orange County’s mass transit. “I have not changed my endorsement,” Roth said. “But I would be distressed to no end if something should happen politically that would delay the monorail. It’s a very important link . . . and at least it’s getting off the ground.”