By Sarah de Crescenzo
Will the Great Park get a great wall?
Some Irvine officials are fuming over the county’s plan to put shops, offices, residences and a hotel on a narrow band of land adjacent to the Great Park.
Irvine “has serious questions over whether the proposed development can and should be allowed,” said City Manager Sean Joyce at a recent meeting of the Great Park’s board of directors, composed of City Council members.
A 2003 agreement transferred the former El Toro Marine base to Irvine – minus a few parcels of land the county kept, including the mostly vacant 108-acre strip in question, commonly called the 100-acre site, south of the park.
“The city and county both, in our view, plainly envisioned county uses for that land,” Joyce said. “The county has now planned a very intense commercial, residential (and) retail development on the property.”
Potential uses for the acreage listed in that 2003 document include an animal shelter, vehicle storage or a law enforcement training facility. About 430,000 square feet of institutional and warehouse use is currently permitted.
Instead, the county’s proposed rezoning would allow nearly 1.9 million square feet of office space, 220,000 square feet of retail, more than 2,000 residential units and a 242-room hotel.
Residences would go up on the westernmost portion of the land while offices would be built to the east. A hotel and retail center would sit in between. Five parking structures are also proposed.
That type of development, with the traffic it would draw, could stymie Irvine’s plans to finish its Great Park project, Councilwoman Christina Shea said.
Shea said she would support building a wall between the projects to block access from the county development to the Great Park.
“There has to be a way to get them to the table,” Shea said. “Historically, jurisdictions work together. They need to be willing to negotiate with us.”