Irvine leaders are set to approve over $1 billion in spending in one night this Tuesday, with a slate of new bond debt that will finance the development of the city’s Great Park. 

The new debt is a dramatic increase from the park’s existing bond debt of around $280 million, which is over half a billion dollars after interest, but also comes as city council members have pledged to jumpstart the long dormant development of Orange County’s largest municipal project. 

[Read: Irvine’s Great Park Has Its First Development Plan in Years, Can the City Deliver?]

That plan includes some big ticket projects like a 14,000-seat amphitheater, an aquatics center with a home for an Olympic team, a botanical garden and a series of other projects that will fill in the hundreds of acres currently vacant at the park over the next few years. 

“We are going full steam ahead on the building of what is going to be the greatest metropolitan park in the United States of America,” said Councilman Mike Carroll at the council’s discussion of the park’s future on March 16. 

Under the plan proposed by city staff, the city would receive $455 million upfront with the issuance of the bonds, and pay them back with interest over the next three decades, ultimately paying around $1 billion by the time the bonds lapse in 2057. 

The bonds are paid for by a series of special Mello-Roos taxes on homes surrounding the Great Park, which homeowners are warned about before they move in and were put in place over a decade ago. 

[Read: The Great Park Tax: How Irvine Homeowners are Paying for the City’s Big Dreams

Homeowner’s existing special taxes will not increase as a result of the new bonds, but they are the ones ultimately responsible for paying off the development. 

To prepare for the new bond debt, city council members raised the project’s debt ceiling from just over $1 billion to $2 billion earlier this year. 

[Read: Irvine Looks To Raise Great Park Bonds Ceiling to $2 Billion]

The city council will discuss approving the new bond debt at their meeting on Tuesday night. 

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.

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