Irvine’s Woodbridge Village Center to undergo a $30 million renovation
Irvine’s aging Woodbridge Village Center, which is beset with a high-vacancy rate, will soon receive a $30-million face lift.
The Newport Beach-based Irvine Co. announced Wednesday that the 37-year-old shopping center, which is located off Barranca Parkway between Creek and Lake roads in Woodbridge, will undergo a series of renovations and updates aimed at revitalizing the shopping center.
A two-story, mixed-use office building will be removed and the inner courtyard will be expanded into a larger “front porch” setting for outdoor dining and community gatherings with views of North Lake. For years, visitors and families have sat in the courtyard to eat, relax or watch their children play on Woody and Bridget, two popular ceramic frogs.
Woody and Bridget, which have fallen into disrepair, will be replaced with two new frogs. The courtyard-area tiles that neighborhood children hand-painted in the early 1990s salvageable because of their age, however, the Irvine Co. will take a photos of each and keep them on file for viewing.
“We’re taking everything that people love about Woodbridge Village Center and transforming it into even more of a community gathering place with new amenities and updated features,” said Dave Moore, president of Irvine Co. Retail Properties. “It will still be the ideal spot to take in a movie, enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee or just somewhere to get comfortable and take in the beautiful scenery.”
Removing the building in the middle of the center will reduce the square footage of the 17-acre site by nearly 15,000 square feet. Construction, which is expected to begin in August, will likely be complete by late 2017.
The discount movie theater Woodbridge Village 5, as well as longtime retailers Ruby’s Diner and Barnes & Noble will remain. The future of smaller shops like Sticky Fingers candy store — a cherished location for area children for decades — remains uncertain. Moore said the Irvine Co. is meeting with all of the tenants to determine future plans.
The Irvine Co. will also be bringing in a mix of new tenants, including more restaurants and a small-format national grocer that will take the place of Assi Natural Market, which shuttered several years ago after only nine months.
Company officials are confident that a grocery concept will work well as long as it is the appropriate size. Previous concepts were unsuccessful, in part, because they needed a large customer base to succeed, Moore said.
“The offering will be right in line with what we think the Woodbridge community would like to see,” he said.
The Irvine Co’s plans put to rest years of concerns from tenants and residents who were fearful that the developer would raze the struggling center and build housing.
“The reality was we wanted to keep it a retail center,” Moore said. “We just needed to be more relevant in today’s retail community. We had to determine how to preserve what the community has come to expect and come to enjoy over the last 40 years and at the same time make it relevant and economically viable.”
Less than 50% of the center is currently leased.