Officials from FivePoint Communities — the developer of the neighborhoods around Irvine’s Great Park — and the city will hold a news conference Monday to announce plans to build 4,894 homes in the Great Park neighborhoods.
This long-awaited announcement moves the ball forward on financing and construction of the Great Park. It also brings to the next level the battle between the developer and the Irvine Unified School District over the funding of new schools.
The housing development, which had been stalled by the housing bust and other issues, is now possible because of a $400 million revolving line of credit issued by a group of investors in the project. The Orange County Register reported this morning that houses could be sold in the area by late 2012.
On Monday, FivePoint Communities is expected to release figures on property tax increment revenue for the park and the school district.
These figures are important to school district officials, who have complained that the developer and the city are shortchanging the district on Mello-Roos tax revenue and thus stifling the construction of what they say will be needed new schools in the city.
The countercharge is that the school district is exaggerating the need for new schools. School district officials have stated they plan to use the property tax increment revenue to add facilities to existing schools.
School district board member Mike Parham said that having a solid figure on the number of units to be built in the park neighborhoods will allow the school district to come to a conclusion on its facilities needs.
“The fight hasn’t even begun, but at least now we know what number we’re fighting about,” Parham said.
Meetings over the next several months among city and school officials will help round out the cost of building an “Irvine quality school,” Parham said.
“That will give us an opportunity to vote on something as a board in terms of what we will demand” from the developer, Parham said.
Irvine City Council members Larry Agran, Sukhee Kang and Jeff Lalloway lauded the coming announcement. Agran said he’s hopeful the school district will realize that the property tax increment revenue will be enough funding to meet their needs.
“Anybody with an ounce of sense who looks at what’s available here — not just for the Great Park, but for schools and other public facilities — will realize it’s a good deal,” Agran said.
Prominent Irvine Republican Adam Probolsky has already fired a shot at the school district for its handling of facilities needs.
Probolsky criticized the school district for selling off two surplus school sites. He pointed out that it did so while claiming to need more schools.
— ADAM ELMAHREK