Irvine Ranch, circa 1890


Irvine Ranch, circa 1890

History of Irvine Company

Since 1864, Irvine Company has been one of California’s largest landowners, evolving from a ranching and farming operation to one of the premier real estate investment companies and master planners in America, known for its commitment to long-term ownership and management of a high-quality portfolio—the breadth and quality of which is unmatched in the industry.

Master Planner

Master planning has been embedded in Irvine Company’s DNA since James Irvine first purchased 93,000 acres of land in Orange County, Calif. in the 1860s.

The planning ideal prevailed in the early 1960s when the company resisted pressure to sell the land piecemeal to developers and commissioned architect William Pereira to create a master plan to guide development and set standards for what would become the new city of Irvine, Calif.

Under the master plan, the land would not only be thoughtfully managed, but the quality of life that existed there would be protected for generations. It called for a balance of land uses to support economic growth and promote quality of life, including a variety of housing types, office and retail centers, the best public schools in California, generous recreation, and abundant open space.

To this day, William Pereira’s original vision—the legacy of James Irvine’s ideals—continues to protect the quality of life in each of the communities Irvine Company has carefully planned and developed throughout coastal California.

Long-Term Ownership

At Irvine Company, reinvesting in our real-estate portfolio is as much a philosophical imperative as it is an ongoing commitment. We hold our properties for the long-term, and therefore reinvestment is the heart of our business.

Because of this, our properties stand out at the top of their class, providing customers the highest standards and quality—with a wide range of amenities, value-added conveniences and forward-looking designs.

In recent years, this commitment has been taken to a new level with a more than $400 million reinvestment across our portfolio to refurbish dozens of our apartment communities, shopping centers, office buildings and resort properties.

Recent reinvestment projects include a sweeping initiative to increase energy efficiency at our buildings in order to reduce our buildings’ carbon footprint and operating costs, a $150 million remodel of the 1,410-unit Village Mission Valley Apartment Community in San Diego, and the installation of nearly 18,000 water-efficient toilets and similar number of shower heads in our older apartment communities in order to reduce annual resident water consumption by at least 262.5 million gallons.

Continued reinvestments like this ensure that Irvine Company will have the most attractive and well-maintained properties on the market and help to protect property values in the broader community.

Irvine Company Timeline

1864 James Irvine
James Irvine and three partners purchase 120,000 acres assembled through Mexican and Spanish land grants for an estimated $26,000. The land in what's now Orange County, Calif. eventually forms the 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch—what many today consider the finest example of master planning in the country.
The Irvine Company historical sign
The Irvine Ranch is incorporated and becomes The Irvine Company.
1897 First Irvine Land Donation
Irvine Company makes its first public land donation of 304 acres for Irvine Regional Park, formerly known as the "Picnic Grounds" to Orange County.
Irvine Ranch Residence
James Irvine II sets up permanent residence with a family home on The Irvine Ranch near what's now Irvine Boulevard and Myford Road in Irvine. The house sits in the middle of the company's agricultural operations and close to a stagecoach station. The house is severely damaged by fire in 1965. A replica is built on the site in 2008 and is now home to the Katie Wheeler Public Library.
1918 Right Of Way granted for PCH
James Irvine II offers to the government the right-of-way for a major stretch of Pacific Coast Highway through Orange County. An attraction in itself, the highway runs along the coastline, providing access to coastal cities and communities, as well as parks, beaches, and other attractions.
1925 PCH Opens Development
Following the opening of Pacific Coast Highway, Irvine Company starts development of the Irvine Beach and Country Club Estates, which suffer because of the Depression. Later, the communities become known as Shore Cliffs and Corona Highlands in Corona del Mar.
1929 Irvine Lake Irrigation System
James Irvine II oversees the installation of a massive and sophisticated irrigation system on the ranch that includes the dam that created Irvine Lake. To this day, Irvine Company continues to treat water as a precious resource with state-of-the-art, high-efficiency water systems and extensive use of recycled water.
1937 James Irvine Foundation Created
Exemplifying Irvine Company's history of philanthropy, the James Irvine Foundation is created in 1937 to provide financial aid for privately supported educational and charitable institutions.
1941 Irvine Bowl
The site of Irvine Bowl in Laguna Beach is made possible by a 17.7-acre donation from James Irvine II.
1950 Coastline
Irvine Company develops the communities of Westcliff, Harbor Highlands, Baycrest, Cameo Shores and Cameo Highlands in Newport Beach. Laguna Beach's exclusive Irvine Cove is developed with custom lots. Several members of Irvine family build homes there, earning the community the nickname “Family Cove.”
1953 Boy Scout Jamboree
The Irvine Ranch hosts the International Boy Scout Jamboree, welcoming some 50,000 Scouts from all over the world. The gathering takes place just north of Pacific Coast Highway, between Jamboree Road (named after the event) and MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach. Today, a plaque at Fashion Island commemorates the event.
1954 Irvine Coast Country Club
Irvine Coast Country Club constructed between Corona del Mar and Newport Beach.
1960 Master Planning William Pereira
Acclaimed architect and urban planner William Pereira is commissioned to create a master plan to guide development and set standards for the entire Irvine Ranch. The original master plan calls for 10,400 acres, roughly 11 percent of the 93,000-acre ranch, to be set aside as parks and open space. Master planning begins. Irvine Company sells for one dollar 1,000 acres to the University of California on which to build UC Irvine.
1963 First Irvine Company Shopping Center
The first shopping center on Irvine Ranch opens with completion of Westcliff Plaza at 17th Street and Irvine Boulevard in Newport Beach.
1964 First Village Eastbluff
The Irvine Ranch introduces its first village—the 619-acre Village of Eastbluff—near the Upper Newport Bay.
1966 Newport Town Center Groundbreaking
Irvine Company officials break ground on Newport Town Center (to be renamed Fashion Island), a regional shopping center overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach. It is the most ambitious undertaking yet proposed under the Master Plan.
Irvine Water Filtration
Irvine Company and Irvine Ranch Water District become a pioneer in the use of recycled water in Orange County, building the Michelson Water Recycling Plant that delivers two million gallons of water daily. By 2025, the plant will have the capacity to produce 33 million gallons of water daily.
1968 Mariner Square Apartment Project
Irvine Company begins construction on its first apartment project, Mariner Square in Newport Beach.
1969 Irvine Company Headquarters 550 Newport Center Drive
Irvine Company headquarters in Newport Beach is completed at 550 and 500 Newport Center Drive.
1971 Irvine Incorporates
Irvine incorporates, becoming Orange County's 26th city, population 14,231. Irvine's population today is more than 240,000.
1976 Home Lottery for Woodbridge
On the first day of home sales for Village of Woodbridge in Irvine, 10,000 would-be homebuyers enter a lottery for the initial 350 homes. The demand and instant sellout of the village's first phase make national news.
1977 Donald Bren Purchases Irvine Company
A group of investors, including Donald Bren, purchase Irvine Company from the James Irvine Foundation. Bren becomes majority owner in 1983 and sole owner in 1996.
Horse and Rider at Crystal Cove overlooking Pacific Ocean 1979
Irvine Company transfers 2,791 acres of land to the State of California, which in turn becomes Crystal Cove State Park, preserving three and a half miles of precious coastline and priceless biological resources in the coastal foothills.
La Jolla San Diego Office Purchase 1982
Irvine Company acquires its first San Diego buildings in 1982, with La Jolla Gateway in University Towne Centre. Three decades later, the company continues to own and operate office properties in UTC, Downtown, Sorrento Mesa, Del Mar Heights and Mission Valley.
1984 Irvine Spectrum Center Planned
Irvine Spectrum takes shape, conceived and developed under Irvine's Master Plan to create a balanced district of retail, office, and living space.
Irvine voted America's Safest City 1992
The FBI names Irvine “America's Safest Large City” for the first time, establishing a reputation that will help define the city as one of the most livable, family-friendly communities in the U.S.
1995 Irvine Spectrum Center Opens
Irvine Spectrum Center opens 1995, becoming immediately popular with the local community as well as with visitors from around the world. The center is anchored by Edwards 21 Cinemas movie theater, largest in the western United States at that time. Host to an array of shopping and dining experiences, this iconic center has become as popular of an attraction as many long-time Southern California landmarks.
Open Space Trail
Irvine Company contributes 21,000 acres to The Nature Reserve of Orange County, thus creating a massive contiguous habitat area containing a wide variety of rare plant and animal species and the vital eco-systems necessary to support their survival.
Pelican Hill Golf Club 1998
Pelican Hill Club, a public restaurant and conference facility, opens adjacent to Pelican Hill golf courses, designed by Tom Fazio.
Fremont Canyon 2001 Conservancy donation
Irvine Company designates 11,000 acres of pristine open space for permanent protection in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. This gift is the final link in a contiguous sweep of open space from the coastal mountains to the sea on the historic Irvine Ranch.
N Parks San Jose
Irvine Company's North Park Apartment Community—the largest apartment community in Silicon Valley—opens in San Jose, Calif.
Mountains to Sea Trail | Back Bay Loop Newport Beach
The Irvine Ranch Land Reserve Trust is created to help ensure comprehensive protection and public access to the preserved lands. The trust is soon renamed the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, reflecting its increasingly active role in stewardship of the lands.
2006 Irvine Company protected 40,000 Acres
More than 40,000 permanently protected acres of the 93,000 acre Irvine Ranch® are designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, following rigorous scientific review. Two years later, in 2008, the same lands are named a California Natural Landmark—the first such designation—and marks the beginning of a new program for the state.
Pelican Hill Resort Build in 2008
After its highly anticipated expansion is complete in 2008, The Resort at Pelican Hill becomes a world-class destination—featuring two world-class golf courses, five-star amenities, unrivaled customer service, and exquisite dining experiences.
20,000 Acres Preserved Limestone Canyon
Irvine Company designates an additional 20,000 acres to the County of Orange—bringing the total contribution of permanently preserved land to more than 50,000 acres, representing more than half of the original 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch®.
Fashion Island
Fashion Island celebrates its 45-year anniversary adding 22,000-square feet of retail space. As a result of reinvestment, more than 40 stores and restaurants have opened at Fashion Island since early 2010, including Nordstrom, a first-ever Ella Moss, a relocated Apple Store that's the largest in Orange County, and Whole Foods Market.
2500 acres Irvine Company Land Gift
Culminating more than 50 years of open space master planning, Irvine Company announces a major land gift of 2,500 acres near Anaheim Hills, East Orange, and Irvine Lake. The gift brings the grand total of parklands and open space given by Irvine Company to 57,000 acres, or approximately 60% of the 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch.
Tesla Hybrid Battery Office Building
Irvine Company begins an initiative that makes it the world's first major real estate company to create—in partnership with Advanced Microgrid Solutions—a fleet of hybrid-electric buildings powered by state-of-the-art energy storage systems from Tesla Energy.
World's first hybrid-electric collection
Irvine Company completes world’s first fleet of Hybrid Electric Buildings® which feature state-of-the-art Tesla Powerpack battery systems. The 21 high-rise office buildings are equipped with Advanced Microgrid Solutions energy management and optimization software.