After picking the top stories of 2006, the Irvine World News staff moved on to predict the top stories we expect to be covering in 2007. Here’s the consensus.
BY SONYA SMITH, JORGE BARRIENTOS and YOLANDA SANCHEZ
IRVINE WORLD NEWS
1. GREAT PARK
The Lennar Corp. plans to begin grading and installing sewers, electrical lines and streets in early 2007. By mid-year the master plan and phasing plan should be approved. The long-anticipated orange helium balloon is expected to launch in mid-year, allowing the public to get a bird’s-eye view of the park’s demolition and construction.
And by year’s end the environmental studies are to be complete on Lennar Corp.’s proposal to give the city another 402 acres in exchange for being allowed to build about 9,500 homes around the park.
2. IRVINE BUSINESS COMPLEX
City staff will continue studying the environmental effects of adding thousands more of residential developments in the industrial area. While that is expected to finish by the end of 2007, development will continue. Currently, approval is being sought to build 6,640 residences and construction is under way on 3,917 residences.
The number of people and residences will continue to climb in 2007.
Thousands of Irvine Business Complex homes will open and start construction. More houses, apartments and condos will also open in the newest villages of Woodbury and Portola Springs.
Also, work will continue on the village of Orchard Hills which is now being graded.
Finally, about 3,700 residences will open in 2007 at The Village near the Spectrum Center.
With the new growth – a post office and three fire stations will open. The Northwood Station post office will open sometime this month. It will be the fifth post office in Irvine and will serve residents with zip codes 92602 and 92620 on 40 delivery routes.
The three new fire stations will open in August, October and December.
4. GREAT PARK TRANSIT SYSTEM
Staff will present to the council in June a recommended plan for a transit system to travel through the Great Park and extend to the Spectrum Center. The recommendation will include the transportation type, route and possible funding sources. If all is approved, the transit system is expected to open in summer 2012.
5. IRVINE UNIFIED
Options for a new school district stadium will be narrowed down. Last year the district requested architectural plans, a timeline and possible sites at Irvine Valley College, elsewhere in the city and at the Great Park. No schedule has been made for a decision.
Irvine Unified is trying to get more than $25 million from the state to build new schools and modernize old ones from the $10.4 billion facilities bond approved in the Nov. 7 election.
The bond money would help the district build Woodbury Elementary (scheduled to open this year), a new campus for Westwood Basics Plus and two middle schools.
6. SMOKING BAN
In August, the Great Park Corp. Board unanimously supported a smoking ban for the Great Park. Council members now want to extend that to all city parks and to possibly include alcohol. The City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance in early 2007.
7. COLLEGE CONSTRUCTION
The $32 million performing arts center at Irvine Valley College will open in July. President Glenn Roquemore called the performing arts center a “gem destined to become a cultural and architectural centerpiece for the community of Irvine.”
Also, Concordia University’s $20-million Robert Alan Grimm Center will open in the fall. The center will offer wireless capabilities and a 45 percent increase in institutional space for the maxed out university.