FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine postpones its opening until October

By Kelli Skye Fadroski

Mega live-events company Live Nation announced Wednesday that it will postpone the grand opening of its FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine.

Originally scheduled to kick off on Saturday, Aug. 26 with Irvine’s own Young the Giant and Cold War Kids, which also formed in Orange County, the show has been moved to Thursday, Oct. 5.

Aside from the date change, the debut performance will still feature Young the Giant and Cold War Kids. Tickets issued for the original date will be honored for the rescheduled date. However, those who prefer to get a refund for their tickets may do so at point of purchase.

Other previously announced shows – including 95.9/FM’s The Fish Family Night on Friday, Oct. 6 and JACK 93.1/FM’s 12th Show on Saturday, Oct. 7 – are unaffected by the push back and will still go on as scheduled.

“Providing artists and attendees with a premier event experience is paramount to FivePoint Amphitheatre and the venue has chosen to shift the opening to accommodate unforeseen construction needs,” a press release issued Wednesday afternoon explained.

“It was always intended for 2017 to be a shortened season,” a spokesperson for Live Nation added. “In 2018, fans can expect a full season of concerts.”

Since local music fans were instrumental in getting the 12,000-capacity temporary venue unanimously approved by the Irvine City Council back in March via the Save Live Music Irvine campaign, Live Nation continues to see that support from the public through FivePointe Amphitheatre’s various social media platforms.

Since Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre was demolished last October, the new venue is slated to serve as a temporary solution for the lack of an outdoor concert venue while permitting and details for a larger, permanent structure within the Orange County Great Park are being worked out. Currently, FivePoint Amphitheatre will be located at 14800 Chinon in Irvine, next to the Great Park.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

Irvine’s Great Park sports park with soccer stadium and fields, tennis and volleyball courts opens Aug. 5

By Tomoya Shimura

IRVINE — The Orange County Great Park, which some mockingly have called “not-so-great park” for its limited amenities, will soon get a huge boost.

The city on Aug. 5 will host a grand opening of the first phase of the 194-acre Great Park Sports Park. The public will be able to enjoy activities at new facilities including a 2,506-seat soccer stadium (with berm seating for additional 2,500 spectators), six soccer fields, 25 tennis courts and five sand volleyball courts on 53 acres opening that day.

Watch the aerial view video of the latest Great Park development.

When completed, the sports park will also feature six additional soccer fields, 12 baseball and softball fields and lawn areas large enough to accommodate five more soccer fields.

The sports park is the first major facility to open at the Great Park since a newly elected City Council in 2013 decided to change the course of the park development.

Councilwoman Christina Shea said the Aug. 5 opening marks the beginning of many more features that will come to the Great Park in the next few years.

“It’s a big park,” Shea said. “It takes time to grow. … Now that all that infrastructure is in there, we are starting to see the fruit of the development.”

The city has so far developed 200 acres of the land. Amenities include the Great Park balloon, a carousel, visitor center, kids rock play area, walkable historical timeline, a Hangar 244 event center, an arts complex, horticulture area and sports fields.

The 1,300-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro site owned by the city could match the size of San Diego’s Balboa Park when fully developed.

The new sports park is part of the 713 acres developer FivePoint is building for the city in exchange for approval to build more than 4,600 homes adjacent to the park. That portion will also include an 18-hole golf course, trails, agricultural fields, playgrounds, open space and a wildlife corridor.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

Irvine will hold exclusive talks with Wild Rivers to open at Great Park

By Lou Ponsi

IRVINE — A 30-acre water park, complete with an uphill water coaster, water slides and lazy river, is a step closer to making a monumental splash at the Orange County Great Park.

The Irvine City Council, acting as the Orange County Great Park board, on Tuesday, June 27, approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with Wild Rivers, LLC, to build and operate the water park at the Great Park. Wild Rivers would be in the 250-acre Cultural Terrace, in the southeast portion of the park.

Once a popular summer attraction in Irvine, Wild Rivers closed in 2011 after 25 years in the city, when the lease with the Irvine Co. ran out, giving way to the Los Olivos apartment complex.

Exclusive negotiating agreements are common in partnerships involving significant projects, a staff report noted, and a first step in moving negotiations forward for major projects. Mayor Donald Wagner and council members Melissa Fox and Christina Shea voted in favor of the agreement. Lynn Schott and Jeffrey Lalloway were absent.

The next step, due to be completed in the fall, involves preliminary site planning and first draft of a lease. That phase, which could be completed by summer 2018, involves an environmental review of the site and final lease agreement.

Construction could also begin by summer 2018 and the water park could be open by summer 2019, the staff report said.
Wild Rivers CEO Mike Riedel first approached city officials about moving to the Great Park the year Wild Rivers closed. Last year, rather than granting Wild Rivers a no-bid contract, the council decided to seek more proposals.

Two proposals were submitted, including one that consisted of three separate water parks.The parks would have been: Wild Rivers; a 20- to 25-acre rafting and kayaking whitewater park by Western Whitewater Works and S20 Design and Engineering; and a 15-acre surfing lake by Surfloch.

After the second proposal didn’t meet the city’s requirements, the council approved a motion to go forward with the Wild Rivers proposal.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

OC REGISTER: A ‘win-win-win’ for veterans cemetery

By Editorial Board

The Irvine City Council made the right call last week when it voted 3-2 to go with developer FivePoint’s proposal for a veterans cemetery that offers the best chance for properly honoring our nation’s veterans.

Or, as Peter Katz, an Army veteran and member of the Orange County Memorial Park Committee, told the council, “The costs are cheaper. The access is easier.”

The FivePoint proposal, for which the company has volunteered to fund the first phase, is spread across as much as 125 acres, fittingly straddles Marine Way and contains a host of proposed amenities for honoring our fallen men and women in uniform. The site would include a veterans memorial on the side facing the I-5 freeway. Its proximity to the freeway allows ease of access for visitors and a solemn reminder of the price of freedom to those passing by.

The previous site was controversial because of its proximity to homes. This alternative site has the support of both residents and the veterans group formed to push for a cemetery.

It makes better financial sense, too. The state announced late last month that it would only contribute $30 million for the project at the other site, leaving Irvine residents to cover a $50 million difference.

“The Irvine council’s decision is a win-win-win for the city at large, our communities and, most importantly, our veterans who deserve a special place to honor their own that is worthy of the service they have given this country,” Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint, said in a statement.

But critics have pointed to unknowns in the plan, and repeated the tired notion that the council is “giving away” the Great Park.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

Irvine Moves Vets Cemetery From Main Former Marine Base to Strawberry Fields Near Freeways

By Spencer Custodio

It’s unclear when the first funeral procession can enter Orange County’s state veterans cemetery, but a split Irvine City Council has begun a land swap that will move the site from a central part of the former El Toro Marine base to strawberry fields near the interchange of the 5 and 405 freeways.

“This may be a good site, I have no idea … I have 10 pages (of information), no traffic study, no appraisal,” Councilman Jeff Lalloway said in opposing the site switch at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “This is absolutely ludicrous … I’m concerned there’s been a backroom deal.”

Councilwoman Christina Shea countered Lalloway’s claims and defended the pending land swap.

“That dramatic misrepresentation of what’s going on here is pretty sad, but that’s what we deal with regularly on the dais,” Shea said. “We need to move it forward and then it’s going to move through all the proper processes.”

There is no estimate for when the veterans cemetery would open. Strong feelings on both sides, sparked in part by an anonymous attack aimed at backers of the main former El Toro base site, intensified the council debate.

But following the City Council’s decision, FivePoint Chairman and CEO Emile Haddad said in a statement “the Irvine Council’s decision is a win-win-win for the city-at-large, or communities and, most importantly, the veterans who deserve a special place to honor their own, a cemetery that is worthy of the service they have given this country.”

“FivePoint stands ready to help the city and state expedite the building of the cemetery,” he added. “We are excited and proud to help deliver the promise made to the veterans.”

Shea originally bought the land swap proposal to the council last year, but it failed to gain traction. She said Tuesday night that more than a year ago she approached FivePoint Communities and an organization named the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation to begin talking about a potential land trade.

Since then, FivePoint offered to swap its strawberry field land for the original site by the Great Park, which has hangars and a runway on it. FivePoint said it would fund the first phase of cemetery construction on the new site. In return, the developer wants its current entitlements transferred to the 125-acre runway site. Those entitlements include 812,000 square feet of commercial/office space and nearly 9,000 daily commuter trips allowed in and out of the site.

Continue reading at Voice of OC…

Irvine City Council votes to build veterans cemetery near El Toro Y

By Irvine City News staff
​The Irvine City Council, in a special meeting that took place on the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, today approved by a 3-2 vote the “strawberry fields” near the 5 and 405 freeways as the site of the future Southern California Veterans Cemetery.

Mayor Don Wagner and council members Melissa Fox and Christina Shea voted to move the proposed cemetery from a site north of the Great Park to the alternate site near the intersection of the 5 and 405 freeways, south of the park. Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Schott and Councilmember Jeff Lalloway opposed the action.

As the city clerk announced the 3-2 vote in favor of the “strawberry field” site, veterans leader Bill Cook and a large contingent of veterans stood, cheered and applauded.

Upon learning of the decision, FivePoint CEO and Chairman Emile Haddad issued this statement: “The Irvine council’s decision is a win-win-win for the city at large, our communities and, most importantly, the veterans who deserve a special place to honor their own, a cemetery that is worthy of the service they have given this country.” Haddad added, “FivePoint stands ready to help the city and state expedite the building of the cemetery. We are excited and proud to help deliver on the promise made to the veterans.”

In front of a standing-room-only crowd that included veterans and community and city leaders, statements from elected officials not at the meeting were read that unanimously endorsed the land exchange and the approval of the alternate site for the veterans cemetery. Statements were entered into the record from Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel, Congressman Lou Correa, State Senator Josh Newman and Assemblyman Steven Choi, all in favor of the freeway-adjacent alternate site near the El Toro Y, known as the “strawberry fields.”

Of the 55 individuals who offered public comments at the three-and-a-half hour meeting–the third in two months on the topic–32 were in favor of the “strawberry fields” site, while 21 favored the ARDA site. Two were neutral.

Prior to the public comments, as well as after, the five council members heatedly debated the issue.

After sharing that the state’s funding came in $10 million less than anticipated, Mayor Don Wagner said, “Neither the state government nor the federal government is willing to be an equal partner.” The federal government had suggested it would consider adding $10 million to the project, but, Wagner said, “That amount has not been committed to us…We are quite low on the federal priority list and waiting for that funding could further delay (the project).”

Councilmember Jeff Lalloway, who admitted to not reading a document submitted yesterday by land developer FivePoint that included details about its commitment to the alternate site, called the alternate site proposal a “backroom deal.” He said he would ask for a delay and postponement of the vote. “I’ll be making a motion to put this off for another meeting,” he said, citing traffic as a major concern.

“That dramatic misrepresentation of what is going on here is pretty sad,” said Councilmember Christina Shea in response to Lalloway’s comments. “There is nothing about this proposal tonight that will stop any process going forward through the proper channels.” Shea added, “The state knows the money’s not there. Sharon Quirk Silva knows the money’s not there.” Shea said she didn’t want to see the city have to foot the bill.

Continue reading at Irvine City News…

AUDIO: Former Irvine Senator Dick Ackerman Discusses Proposed Veterans Cemetery

Former Irvine Senator Dick Ackerman calls Irvine residents and encourages the city council to locate a FREE Veteran’s Cemetery near the Great Park instead of taxpayers paying $80 million for an inferior site. Larry Agran supports the expensive site, after already spending $250 million on the Great Park with just a balloon to show for it.

Even with Irvine’s diverse mix of cultures, some residents feel they don’t ‘fit’

By Anh Do

The Woodbury Town Center in Irvine looks like so many other sparkling new shopping villages in suburban California with its Trader Joe’s, HomeGoods, Home Depot framed by swaying palm trees and Spanish tile.

As customers make their way through the outdoor mall, the words they leave in their wake are less uniform: Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi, Cantonese, Korean.

In a region known for its cultural mix, Irvine stands apart. It is more Asian than white, affluent and booming — its population now surpassing 250,000 as it continues to be an economic powerhouse of Orange County.

The master-planned city has become synonymous with a certain kind of lifestyle, a magnet for high-achieving families of all races and backgrounds looking for the best public schools for their children and safe, immaculate neighborhoods for themselves.

But even in this haven that residents call “a mini-United Nations,” diversity sometimes brings strain.

For recent immigrants, it can be hard to fit into the Irvine ideal. Some feel self-conscious about their heavy accents, while others talk about encounters with the occasional longtime resident who resents the influx of Asians and other immigrants.

For white residents of Irvine, the boom has brought much to like — rising home values, stellar test scores and an explosion of ethnic restaurants, cultural celebrations and retail spaces that have brought international sophistication to a place once known as cookie-cutter suburbia.

Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times…

PHOTO CREDIT: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Amphitheater, lake, trails, gardens among residents’ top choices at Irvine’s Great Park

By Tomoya Shimura

An amphitheater, a lake, trails and a botanical garden are among the most popular features residents would like to see built at the developing Orange County Great Park, according to the latest surveys.

The City Council, acting as the Great Park board, on Tuesday, May 23, will discuss results from Irvine’s efforts in the past several months to get resident input on the future of the 1,300-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro site. When fully developed, the city’s park could match the size of Balboa Park in San Diego.

The city asked Irvine and county residents mainly about the future Cultural Terrace, a 248-acre area where the city is considering an amphitheater, a lake, a library, museums and most recently a water park.

One takeaway from the $240,755 public outreach was that respondents showed strong support of the proposed amenities at the Cultural Terrace, according to a staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting.

Among them, an amphitheater was the most popular, with 74 percent of Orange County residents responding they are at least somewhat interested, according to telephone surveys conducted by Encinitas-based True North Research, which was hired by the city. The company surveyed 1,268 households across Orange County.

A lake and museums came in second at 73 percent, followed by a contemporary library (61 percent) and a water park (58 percent).

The City Council in March approved the building of a temporary 12,000-seat amphitheater adjacent to the Great Park to keep the summer outdoor concert tradition in Irvine after the closure of Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. The city can’t develop the Cultural Terrace site because Tierra Verde Industries operates a recycling facility there and has a lease until 2018.

Continue reading at the Orange County Register…

PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Rightmire / Orange County Register

OC Veterans Cemetery: Strawberry Fields Forever?

By Spencer Custodio

Governor Jerry Brown indicated it could be strawberry fields forever for Orange County veterans at a Friday press conference in Irvine, where he expressed fondness for a cemetery site near the 5 and 405 freeway interchange.

The freeway land, which is sandwiched between car dealerships located off the Northbound I-5 on large fields currently growing strawberries, could be the new home to the veterans’ cemetery if the Irvine City Council accepts a land swap proposal from developer Fivepoint.

Initially in Friday’s press conference, Brown wouldn’t say which site he preferred, instead leaving that to the city council. “Let the locals pick and we’ll back them up. So there it is.”

However, later in the press conference Brown indicated a fondness for the Fivepoint-owned freeway site.

“Obviously, I like (the) strawberry patch — ‘Strawberry Fields.’ Remember that song?” Brown told reporters.

Earlier this year, Irvine City Councilwoman Christina Shea introduced the idea of a land swap, with support from the developer, essentially trading a 125-acre site in the Great Park residential tract, already endorsed by the city council and the state legislature as a veterans’ cemetery, for the freeway property.

Council members back in 2014 authorized a 125-acre parcel in the Great Park residential tract and it was later also endorsed by state legislation sponsored by then Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva (D-Fullerton).

That project seemed stalled until Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway spearheaded a move to provide nearly $40 million toward final funding for the Great Park site – at the same meeting as Shea’s proposal was unveiled.

During a contentious and lengthy public hearing, veterans’ testimony seemed split between the freeway land and the Great Park site.

Yet at Friday’s press conference, virtually all veterans speaking to reporters supported the freeway site.

Officials, like Brown and Quirk Silva, say the debate has ultimately helped move the concept.

“Now that we have two (sites), it’s absolutely certain that Orange County will get the veterans’ cemetery that it deserves and the veterans deserve,” Brown said.

Brown wouldn’t say whether the state would commit nearly $40 million to the original site if the Irvine City Council chose to stick with it.

“Obviously, one always has to be careful with the spending of money. What do you get, what don’t you get. It will be looked at. But mostly the Irvine City Council has to make a decision and we can talk about it.”

Reached later for comment, Lalloway dismissed Brown’s Strawberry Fields comment and reiterated that during a private tour of both sites, Brown indicated he would support whatever deal locals struck.

“He believes in local control,” Lalloway said.

Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner said the city council should settle on a site by the end of June.

“At that point, we’re’ going to make — I’m hoping — a final decision,” Wagner said at the press conference.

Brown also reacted to questions about his sister’s ties to the developer.

Kathleen Brown, a former California Treasurer and current partner in the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips law firm, also sits on the board of directors of developer FivePoint.

Continue reading at the Voice of O.C.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Antenore/Voice of OC