Irvine Co. opens village-like communities

The design behind the Village of Cypress, the latest in the Irvine Co. village-concept communities in Irvine, is something between a comfortable neighborhood and resort-style living, company officials said.

The first of 1,677 brand-new apartments and town homes in four communities — Murano, Umbria, Veneto and Cadenza — debuted earlier this month with 18 leases signed and other names added to a waiting list within the first two days.

"There are so few new apartment homes being built and that, combined with the opportunity to live somewhere no one else has lived before, is part of why we're seeing so much enthusiasm here," said Erin Freeman, spokeswoman for the Newport Beach-based Irvine Co.

Other reasons why this collection of apartment homes has garnered attention since opening to the market Feb. 11 include diversity in price points, diversity in floor plans, amenities and the village's easy proximity to local business centers and schools, she said.

The multiple floor plans range between a 556-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bath apartment to a 1,197-square-foot two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath town home. Monthly rent ranges $1,478 to $2,791.

Wider units with airy gathering rooms, outdoor patios and lots of windows are prominent features of the communities' design, which are aimed to appeal to new generation of younger buyers who value socializing and a merging of indoor-outdoor space, said Kevin Baldridge, executive vice president of Irvine apartment communities, while touring a one-bedroom second-story unit in Veneto.

"The design allows the apartment to live more like a home," he said. "People really enjoy the natural light coming into the rooms."

While the one-bedroom Veneto unit featured pale quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and a simulated hardwood floor, other units feature a mix of quartz or granite, stainless steel or white appliances, and varying patterns and textures of faux wood flooring and carpeting.

Surrounding the units are the newly manicured grounds, including olive tree-lined sidewalks, evergreens, eucalyptus trees, lawn parkways and sustainable landscaping.

The units, as well as other buildings — which house fitness centers, clubhouses, conference rooms and leasing offices, —take inspiration from neoclassical architecture styles found in Italy and Greece, similar to other Irvine Co. properties at Pelican Hill and Fashion Island.

"Walking through the community is a lot like walking through a town in Italy or Greece built 200 or 300 years ago," said Brad Neal, vice president of architecture, planning and design. "You see the same kind of variation and style."

Each of the communities also features a junior Olympic-size saltwater pool, spa and outdoor lounge area with a fireplace.

"This is a comfortable kind of style that most people don't expect to get when living in an apartment," Neal said. "It really does feel resort-like."

It's the combination of all these amenities that sold Michelle Nikkhoo, a resident of another village community, Woodbury Place, on a town home in Cadenza the first day the leasing office opened.

"It makes you feel like you're living in upscale home, not like renting apartment," Nikkhoo said. "The community layout, the grounds, the business center, everything — they pay so much attention to detail."

Nikkhoo and her family will be among the first residents to move into Cadenza on March 20. Residents will begin moving into Veneto on March 1.

Construction is still ongoing in some areas of the village. The last units are not expected to be ready for residents until about October.

Nikkhoo is not the only resident that company officials expect to come in from another village concept. On average, between 15% and 20% of residents at Irvine Co. villages have lived at another company-owned village previously, Baldridge said.

"We looked at other places, but no, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else," Nikkhoo said. "I love what the communities offer."

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