Great Park Board Set to Approve Comprehensive Design Plan

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The Great Park Corporation Board of Directors is set Thursday to recommend the Irvine City Council accept the Comprehensive Park Design for the Orange County Great Park submitted by its Design Studio and authorize the corp.'s CEO to negotiate a one-year contract amendment with the studio to initiate the "production" phase of park development.

The studio in recent weeks has been sharing with city officials, local dignitaries and the media its design, which includes farms, museums, ball fields, hiking trails, entertainment complexes, a botanical garden and unspoiled nature within the projected $1.6-billion park's 1,347 acres. (You can check it out and tell designers what you think next Wednesday, Feb. 25, when UC Irvine Extension hosts the first in a series of symposiums that allow students, faculty and public to dialogue with park designers.)

It's a kinda sorta final design because the park's board and City Council can still add some tweaks before ultimately accepting or rejecting it. They'll have plenty of time because revenues required to build are slow in coming due to the housing market being in the tank and the overall crappy economy.

There are also the assorted problems of the Lennar Corp., the Miami-based developer of the residential neighborhoods, businesses and other uses ringing the park. After the city annexed the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in 2003, Lennar acquired the decommissioned base from the Navy, cut Irvine a $200 million check and deeded the park land over to the city. That's represented most of the seed money to get the park'ss design going, but actual production is tied to development fees Lennar is not currently in a position to dole out, although the company has begun development of educational facilities.

During its meeting that begins at 10 a.m. Thursday at Irvine City Hall, the Great Park board will also elect a chairman and vice chairman, consider reappointing director Michael Pinto to another four-year term and decide whether to recommend the City Council accept 5,000 Valencia Olinda citrus trees donated by the Great Park Conservancy. Betcha 5,000 pumpkin seeds they vote "aye."

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