Irvine moves forward with modest O.C. Great Park expansion

Irvine is moving forward with a plan to sculpt 30 more acres of an old military base into soccer fields, basketball courts, gardens, ponds and a visitors center.

The $22.8-million expansion of the Orange County Great Park will break ground this summer and be completed by late 2013 by Stanton-based USS Cal Builders Inc., city officials said Wednesday.

The new features will include:

  • Four soccer fields, four basketball courts and an exercise trail
  • Six small ponds with a viewing pier, 400 tree plantings and a 99-plot community garden
  • A 5,000-square-foot visitors center to replace a tent near the park’s balloon ride
  • A 2,604-foot walkable historical timeline 

The announcement comes a few weeks after state officials ruled that $1.4 billion in property tax funds cannot be used to transform the 1,347-acre expanse of runways and fields into a public park nearly twice the size of New York's Central Park, putting the future of the project in jeopardy.

The expansion will be paid for with a portion of the $200 million in developer fees the city was paid byLennar Corp.The company in 2005 bought the bulk of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro from the federal government and transferred its core to the city in exchange for the rights to surround it with homes and businesses, though the name of the developer is now FivePoint Communities Inc.

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Tony Barboza.

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