Hat tip to the Voice of OC for this story on how developer FivePoint is offering a straight acre for acre landswap for the proposed Veteran’s Cemetery at the Great Park and they won’t ask for any additional entitlements for this deal.
In a nutshell, the developer wants prime land — which could be used to build more homes — even though it might takes tens of millions to prepare the land for that sale. Which says to me the developer will somehow be able to recoup their investment and in exchange, the Veterans get no additional funds by which to administer the Cemetery’s operations moving forward. The developer wants the city to trade a BMW for a VW straight up.
From the story in Voice of OC:
“All we’re asking for is an acre-for-acre exchange,” said FivePoint Chief Communications Officer Steve Churm in a phone interview. “We’re not asking for additional entitlements.”
The swap would grant FivePoint the Great Park land, home of the former El Toro Marine Air Station, in exchange for the developer’s acreage adjacent to the freeways. If the swap is approved by the City Council, the proposed cemetery would be moved from the Great Park to the freeway land.
The former El Toro Marine Air Station has strong emotional bonds for many veterans, particularly those from the Vietnam War era who flew from there to combat zones. But the freeway land, at the Bake Parkway exit of the freeway interchange, could be cheaper for taxpayers.
The swap shouldn’t cost Irvine any money, according to the FivePoint proposal summarized in a letter from its Chairman Emile Haddad. Each site contains about 125 acres and no substantial zoning, traffic or environmental issues affect the freeway cemetery land.
You can read Emile Haddad’s letter to Wagner here. Why they didn’t talk about this at the Duck’s game from FivePoint’s box is beyond me. This photo — sent to theLiberalOC — was taken a day after Wagner’s vote for the Landswap. Yes, Irvine’s Mayor is for sale (and who wears suits to a hockey game?).
And you can’t blame FivePoint for working this over; they paid a lot of money to get Don Wagner elected Mayor and Christina Shea re-elected to the council — both are in the bag for the best interests of the developer and not the Veterans or the taxpayers.
The only real advantage to the landswap is speed. It can be developed faster and FivePoint has offered no real detail on what they’ll do to help the “first phase” of the creation of the cemetery. But make no mistake, the Vets are surrendering tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars to satisfy a developer more interested in profit than community service.
The city council ought to ask for a dollar for dollar swap — not acre for acre. Watch the deal disappear if that happens.