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FOCUS : Not Just a Home, a Life Style Too

May 25, 1989|Clipboard researched by Susan Davis Greene and Dallas Jamison / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

The city of Irvine is advertised as, and has a reputation for being, one of America's best master-planned communities. And when the Irvine Co. masterminded the city of Irvine's village of Westpark, it may well have achieved the ultimate in environmental design. This neighborhood is meticulously planned, from its assorted style of homes to its many parks. And the newly built Irvine Civic Center and City Hall seem to fit right in.

Westpark, just north of the San Diego Freeway at Culver Drive, in the central part of the city, is the eighth residential neighborhood the Irvine Co. has created in Orange County. Loaded with parks, paseos and bike trails, Westpark, when completed, will encompass more than 80 acres of parks and open spaces as well as 5,200 housing units.

A Mediterranean design concept is carried throughout this youth-oriented neighborhood, from color to architecture to the local retail establishments. Even local intersections carry out the idea. Many have small green setbacks, highlighted by five or six palm trees. In the evening, these trees and greenswards, softly lit, form elegant welcomes for returning residents.

Construction started in January, 1987, and to date eight of the 10 master-planned areas under the Westpark umbrella are sold out. The Las Palmos section is the only one that currently has homes available. Two-bedroom condos cost about $160,000, and the larger style homes are topping off at about $500,000, and climbing. The Carta Bella section is planned to open sometime in the latter part of this year. Built at a rate of 1,800 units yearly, Westpark is three-fourths finished, with completion scheduled for midsummer 1991.

At the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Alton Parkway is the newly built Irvine Civic Center and the city's first permanent City Hall for its nearly 100,000 residents. Most of the civil servants moved into their new quarters March 18. The cost of the center exceeded $26 million, but it is home to many agencies: Community Development, Public Works and Services, Public Safety (police), Community Services, Data Processing and Word Processing, Administrative Services and a child-care center.

The Westpark master plan also includes two commercial centers. The first, and the largest in the area, is the Crossroads at Barranca Parkway and Culver Drive. The other, Westpark Village Center, began rising in April at the intersection of Alton Parkway and Culver Drive.

Westpark is separated from the Irvine industrial complex on the northwest by the San Diego Creek Channel. But to the northeast, at the edge of Culver Drive, is a sight fast disappearing from Orange County: open ground under cultivation within city limits. The fields stretch up Culver to Irvine Center Drive--almost a mile of open land broken only by strands of noble eucalyptus.

Alas, the space is earmarked to become another warren of residences, eating up an unobstructed view from Culver to the Tustin U.S. Marine Corps Helicopter Air Station hangars. The Irvine Co. has yet to find a builder that satisfies its needs, though. So for now, stretch your eyes.

Population Total: (1988 est.) 2,230 1980-88 change: +30% Median Age: 32.9

Racial/ethnic mix: White: (non-Latino): 77% Latino: 12% Black: 2% Other: 9%

By sex and age: MALES Median age: 32.1 years FEMALES Median age: 33.8 years

Income Per capita: $15,575 Median household: $70,883 Average household: $69,819

Income Distribution: Less than $25,000: 4% $25,000-49,999: 16% $50,000-74,999: 36% More than $75,000: 44%

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