An asphalt plant in the foothills of northern Irvine is set to become a preserve with housing that would pay for the acquisition.

Irvine leader announced Tuesday, Feb. 28, the city plans to purchase the All American Asphalt property on Jeffrey Road – the focus of increased complaints from residents about odors – and create the Gateway Preserve.

“This acquisition will not only address community concern, but it will also reaffirm Irvine’s commitment to being one of the best and safest cities in the world,” Mayor Farrah Khan said in a statement.

Officials said the city has agreed on the terms of purchasing the plant as well as a “concurrent deal” with the Irvine Company that would result in another 475 acres of land being donated to the city. The sale and development of 80 acres of that property with housing would cover the cost of purchasing the asphalt plant, officials said.

Along with the residential neighborhood, which officials said would be consistent with the master plan for North Irvine, two new parks with native gardens, outdoor classrooms and a small amphitheater as well as more trails are envisioned in the preserved open space. The Gateway Preserve would total 700 acres.

The asphalt plant predates development in the northern area of Irvine; it has been open since the early 1990s. Residential neighborhoods have grown increasingly closer to it in the last decades and in recent years, odor and air quality complaints have flooded City Hall and other agencies.

The city in 2020 filed a public nuisance lawsuit and has been in discussions with the company on a settlement.

A health risk assessment approved by the South Coast Air Quality Management District determined that odors or other emissions from the plant did not exceed thresholds for health risks in nearby neighborhoods.

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In recent months, city leaders turned their attention toward ways to relocate the plant. It was unclear Tuesday night if the plant is being relocated or just closed.

“Citizen activism can and does make a difference,” Councilmember Larry Agran said in a statement.

In a presentation to the City Council Tuesday, it was emphasized: “These are both complex deals that involve substantial risks and will require additional due diligence and refinement over the course of the next several weeks.”

Officials expect to be able to move forward and have documents and agreements ready later this month or in April.