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New Plan For Irvine's Great Park Sparks Heated Debate

IRVINE ( — The City Council met late into the night Tuesday to consider a hotly contested proposal that would allow a developer to build twice as many residences on the Great Park property as was previously approved.

The land, once a Marine Corps air station, was supposed to be transformed into the West Coast's Central Park. But after a decade of setbacks, including delays caused by the recession, developer Emile Haddad of FivePoint Communities says the project needs a larger residential component — 9,500 units —to get off the ground.

"I owe it to the people who are going to buy here not to end up ... looking at blight and runways that have not been removed," Haddad told CBS2 Orange County reporter Stacey Butler.

The original plan called for open space that would feature winding canyons and majestic trails. Instead, Haddad and FivePoint propose 688 acres of park space that would include public soccer fields, which is music to the ears of Deidre Kelly of the AYSO soccer league.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for us to say yes, we support having 20 more soccer fields in Irvine," Kelley told Butler.

Irvine resident Judy Rice called it a housing project that aims to keep the public out.

"I can see the golf course becoming private, because if there are million-dollar houses for sale, they're not going to want a public golf course," Rice said.


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