An asphalt plant, the focus of increased complaints from residents about odors, in the foothills of northern Irvine could soon become a preserve with housing that would pay for the acquisition.

On Tuesday, July 11, city staffers said Irvine has opened escrow and put a 10% deposit down for the purchase of the All American asphalt plant. It is on track to close it by November.

In addition to putting down the deposit, Pete Carmichael, Irvine’s assistant city manager, said staffers have completed stage one standard reports which entails “looking at what sort of utilities were necessary for the project, environmental conditions, soils analysis and a market study.”

And with escrow in motion, the city is moving forward with the next stage of converting the land to an open preserve alongside a housing development.

Councilmembers unanimously approved pushing ahead with an environmental review in line with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines as well as with site preparation studies, including fire mitigation and utilities planning.

This is set to cost the city about $5.8 million with the funding coming from the Gateway Preserve Fund. The timeline for the environmental review is estimated to be about 18-24 months.

The fund was established when city leaders OK’d up to $360 million in bonds to cover the hefty price tag of $285 million that they set for the purchase of the plant plus interest, insurance and other costs, including the environmental review.

Related links

Odors from asphalt plant in Irvine spark frustration, fear, anger
As options to relocate Irvine asphalt plant loom, residents voice frustration, concern
Irvine announces plan to buy, close asphalt plant and make a preserve
Irvine will buy controversial asphalt plant for $285 million
Irvine OKs new financing plan to purchase asphalt plant for Gateway Preserve

The City Council also approved partnering with the Irvine Company on utility work.

“There’s a number of projects going on in the area of the Gateway Preserve,” Carmichael said, referencing the Jeffrey Road extension and Orchard Hills Neighborhood 4 streets that are under construction. “As part of those projects, the Irvine Company is putting in significant upgrades to recycled and domestic water.”

Since the new Gateway Preserve project will require an upgrade to the recycled and domestic water capacity serving the site, Carmichael said, the city can have Irvine Company do the additional work, rather than the city doing it at a later date at a potentially higher cost and ripping up new streets.

And so, city leaders approved paying about $660,000 to Irvine Company from the Gateway Preserve Fund to reimburse it for the additional work.

City leaders also gave the go-ahead for other projects related to the Gateway Preserve, including soliciting a developer for the Residential Village component and updating the Recreation and Resource Management Plan to include the Gateway Preserve open space. The RRMP outlines how open space is managed and needs to be approved by state and federal wildlife agencies.

The housing development, or Residential Village, is a key component of the Gateway Preserve project. When city leaders announced a plan to purchase the All American Asphalt property on Jeffrey Road earlier this year, they also put forth a proposal to create the Gateway Preserve and a housing development that would cover the costs of purchasing the plant.

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