The realization of the Orange Country Great Park is suffering with housing slump. As Lannar Homes slashes plans for developing the El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, Ken Smiths vision for an urban canyon is being delayed. While the design is at 15% of completion, only 2% of the demo has been completed, and the site clearing is way behind schedule.
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.
"To have nothing more than a balloon and the possibility of a 27-acre park is disappointing," said county Supervisor Bill Campbell, whose district includes Irvine. "They're spending a lot on engineers, PR people and other things, and they're not delivering."
"Some of us have felt we've needed a Plan B all along," said Don Dressler, an Irvine finance commissioner. "If Lennar's position is sustained, then we'll have to rethink the sources of funding for the park."
...Lennar is on shaky financial ground, posting an $88.2-million first-quarter loss last month, and rumors swirl that it is for sale. The company is abandoning joint ventures nationwide. In a telephone news conference last month, executives reported that they had reduced the number of joint ventures from 260 at the end of 2006 to 180 this year and planned to pull out of more.
photos by Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
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