Irvine city council considers scaled-back Great Park proposal

Chris Carlson/AP

File: Old jet hangers are seen at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, in Irvine, Calif. The location is set to be part of the future site of the Orange County Great Park.

It was intended to rival New York's Central Park when first envisioned, but once ambitious plans for the Great Park in Irvine have narrowed. 

The Irvine City Council on Tuesday night is expected to consider a proposal that would double the number of homes around Great Park and, in exchange, developer FivePoint Communities would put $172 million into developing a smaller version of the park.  

The proposal is one solution for getting a portion of the park built after money intended for the project was yanked in 2012. 

After a new California law eliminated redevelopment agencies, the City of Irvine was left without the money it planned to use - $1.5 billion - to create the project billed as "the first great metropolitan park of the 21st Century." 

First proposed in 2002, original plans for Great Park called for turning 1,300 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into an urban oasis of canyons, orchards, a lake, athletic fields, and an extensive network of trails and pathways. 

But developer FivePoint Communities has proposed a different plan. 

It already has approval to build nearly 5,000 home around the perimeter of the park. In exchange for permission to increase that number to 9,500, FivePoint will provide funding to build park amenities on nearly 700 acres of the former air base. 

The proposal includes building some of the planned features like  sports fields and a network of trails. It also includes an 18-hole golf course that was not part of the original plan.

Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, also chair of the Great Park board, said the proposal by FivePoint does alter the original plan by using acreage set aside for industrial and commercial development for more homes.  

"Master plans are by their very nature to be changed, they're not written in stone tablets delivered from high above," Lalloway said.  "we change them all the time." 

Some feature of the original plan have been realized such as a balloon ride, carousel, and educational playground.

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