Irvine will pay $285 million for the controversial All American Asphalt Plant on Jeffrey Road, the focus of recent litigation and complaints from nearby residents about odors.

The first payment for the plant of $28.5 million — which is nonrefundable —  is expected to be made by the city on June 15, according to a payment plan Irvine officials outlined on Tuesday, April 11.

The asphalt plant must cease all production activity by Nov. 15 to receive the second payment of $228 million. Then, escrow is expected to close on Feb. 1, 2024, with Irvine making the final payment of $28.5 million the previous day.

In February, city leaders announced that funding for the purchase of the plant is set to come from a “concurrent deal” the city made with Irvine Company. According to that deal, Irvine Company will give the city approximately 475 acres of land, with about 80 acres (worth about $330 million, according to city documents) allocated for housing development.

The sale of the properties is expected to cover the cost of purchasing the asphalt plant.

The development will include 400 to 450 single-family homes and possibly condominiums, said Councilmember Larry Agran, a member of Irvine’s All American Asphalt subcommittee.

In addition to the housing community, Irvine is creating the Gateway Preserve, an approximately 700-acre open space preserve with hiking and biking trails on and around the land where the plant sits. The project is designed to include expansive green spaces, native gardens and outdoor classrooms, according to a video presented at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The land for the Gateway Preserve will include the 11-acre asphalt site, which will be incorporated into the preserve and replaced with a park, interpretive area and staging ground for hikes in the open space. The preserve will also comprise 191 acres dedicated by Irvine Company as well as city-owned preserved land.

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The preserve will connect to the Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve, Black Star Canyon and the Cleveland National Forest, according to the presentation.

The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to move ahead with purchasing the asphalt plant. The project, Councilmember Tammy Kim said, is “an amazing legacy that this council will be leaving behind.”

A representative for All American Asphalt did not speak at Tuesday’s meeting, and a spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The asphalt plant has been open since the early 1990s and predates development in Irvine’s northern area. But in recent years, residents have complained about odors emanating from the site. Irvine filed a public nuisance lawsuit in 2020 exploring options for relocating or even condemning the plant.

Because of the lawsuit, the asphalt plant team, City Manager Oliver Chi said, was concerned Irvine wanted to gain access to the site to do testing and bolster its case; therefore, it was opposed to Irvine assessing the conditions of the land ahead of a sale, Chi said.

So the purchase agreement, which councilmembers signed off on Tuesday, is considered “as-is,” meaning the city unable to “perform complete due diligence analysis” or an “in-depth on-site investigation.” Irvine will purchase an insurance policy — with a cost between $400,000 and $1 million, according to city documents — that covers the asphalt plant site, to cover the city in case there is “a large cost associated with cleanup or mediation,” Chi said last week.

Councilmembers also unanimously approved taking $500,000 from Irvine’s general fund for engineering surveys, design, site planning, utilities planning, market study and traffic analysis on the land donated by the Irvine Company plus the asphalt plant site.

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