Market Woes Stifle 'Great Park' Progress

<p>Three years after Irvine, California's "Great Park" was approved, development of the planned public spaces, homes and businesses has struggled to move forward. The housing crisis is being blamed for the lack of action.</p>
April 17, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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Nearly three years after the city approved a massive residential and commercial development at the closed El Toro Marine base in exchange for a grand park in the heart of suburban Orange County, Irvine officials and struggling home builder Lennar Corp. are in talks about revising the landmark agreement.

No homes or businesses have been built. No grassy fields have been planted. And the runways -- so hated by opponents of a proposed regional airport at the base -- still sit mostly intact.

Designers are planning a dramatic landscape of lakes, orchards, athletic fields, museums and a rugged, man-made canyon in what they promise will be one of the nation's largest municipal parks. In a mailer in 2003, city officials boasted that "children will be playing in the county's largest sports park" by summer 2008.

But for now, no timeline exists for when each park feature will be developed. Most of the future park's 1,347 acres remain off limits to the public, with a balloon ride and a visitor's center being the only public facilities -- although a 27-acre "preview park" is under construction.

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Published on Saturday, April 12, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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