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Pricey Homes, Cathedral OK on Farmland


The Santa Ana City Council on Monday unanimously approved a development plan for a luxury gated community and a cathedral on the last big parcel of open farmland in the city.

A high school and a YMCA are also destined for the old Armstrong Ranch, which has been owned by the Segerstrom family, owners of South Coast Plaza, for more than seven decades.

Shea Homes will build 156 houses, each to cost well over $600,000, on the eastern side of the 90-acre parcel, which is bordered by MacArthur Boulevard, Alton Avenue, and Bear and Greenville streets. Although 88% of the city's households have an annual income of less than $50,000, the luxury homes are considered by many city officials as a way to balance the city's housing stock.

Councilman Brett Franklin said the expensive homes "represent a change in philosophy." Moving up used to mean moving out, he said, but "what we are seeing now is a move-up purchase within the city."

Added Councilman Jose Solorio: "We have something that will be a real showcase for our community."

The homes will replace beans, which have long been the yield on a ranch that the pioneering Armstrong family sold in 1931.

As part of the plan, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange will build a cathedral, parish hall and administration building. The plan would also allow for a YMCA.

The remaining land, to the west, is expected to become the campus for Segerstrom High School.

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