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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Developing A Vibe

$4B, 100-Acre Redevelopment of Honda Center Area Aims to Kick Off This Year

OCVibe­—the $4 billion project headed by the Samueli family to turn nearly 100 acres surrounding Anaheim’ Honda Center into a vibrant and walkable mixed-use community with apartments, retail, office and open space uses—is close to moving from concept to reality.

After hundreds of community meetings and a trio of revisions to its initial plan, the project heads for final approvals from the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Assuming all goes well, construction on the first phase of the project could begin as soon as December.

The current iteration of the project calls for 1,500 mixed-income rental units; 1.1 million square feet of offices; 230,000 square feet of retail including about three dozen restaurants; 550 hotel rooms; a 5,700-capacity concert venue; two 5-acre parks; and 20 acres of public space with a network of pedestrian bridges and walkways.

The project will create 3,000 permanent jobs, 10,000 construction jobs and $2 billion in economic impact, officials said.

It would be the largest ever infill mixed-use development in Orange County’s history; though a neighboring site at Angel Stadium could rival it in terms of scope, depending on the outcome of the sale of the city’s baseball team (see story, this page).

Olympics Deadline

Construction plans for OCVibe are ready to go, despite the potential for changes that could follow the city council meeting, officials say.

“We have worked hard from the beginning to make sure the public is aware and involved in our plan—it is as much theirs as it is ours,” Dan Young, lead master planner for OCVibe, told the Business Journal.

Officials have maintained their goal of delivering the project by 2028, when the Honda Center will play host to indoor volleyball as part of the Summer Olympics.

“It’s important to get OCVibe fully open by then so we can put on a show for the world,” Senior Director of Entitlements Brian Myers said.

Santa Ana River

Site work on the first phase is expected to begin by the end of the year and deliver by 2025, at which point the second phase will kick off. There are five phases in total.

The first phase will be focused on the area immediately surrounding the Honda Center—which will see $400 million in upgrades throughout the project—and includes a nearly 225,000-square-foot office and food hall, restaurants, a concert hall, urban park and three parking structures with 5,740 spots, as well as a 935-space parking lot for employees.

Future phases of OCVibe will add apartments, at least 15% of which will be designated affordable, two hotels with brands new to the city, entertainment and dining venues, and parks and public space, including a 3-mile pedestrian trail.

Sustainability is a key feature of the project, with solar panels across the tops of the four parking structures expected to generate up to 6 megawatts of power, the largest project of its kind in Orange County, officials note.

The project is being self-funded by the Samueli family, owners of the Anaheim Ducks and much of the land surrounding the arena.

Live, Work, Play

During a time of heightened sensitivity for Anaheim, OCVibe officials were pleased to see a positive reception for the project from community members and leaders during its Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 29, where it received the green light to move forward to the city council.

“We have made ourselves very available to the community over the past two and a half years,” said Young, the former No. 2 exec at Newport Beach developer Irvine Co. “I think people have appreciated our efforts to include public components before being asked, such as affordable units and open space.”

Efforts also include free parking throughout the project to encourage visitors and residents to come to the project, “even if they don’t plan on spending money here.”

“We obviously are trying to encourage that, and hope people will come early to get dinner before a game or stay later and visit a jazz club here or get dessert,” Myers said.

OCVibe will employ 8,000 people, factoring in the 5,000 workers who will be using the development’s new offices (see story, page 8).

The project’s location next to the city’s Artic transportation station will play a key part in its success, officials said.

“This will be one of the best transit-oriented communities in the country, and we expect to see people that live outside of the county work here because of the convenience of the train station,” Myers said.

Tech Focus

Having one landlord for the entire project will allow for more connectivity, with technology used to integrate the various components of the project.

Think of Disneyland, which encourages visitors to use an app to plan their day, order food and take advantage of extra add-ons, officials say.

“OCVibe is a full urban plan with a technology overlay that’s never been seen before,” Myers said.

In a notable move to ensure this, Henry Samueli—who made his fortune as co-founder of Broadcom—last year acquired a technology firm, Britelite Technologies,
to develop these features. The company counts about 20 employees and has been renamed DXD, short for Digital Experience Design.

Officials from the tech company say that OCVibe is “the largest smart city development initiative in the United States.”

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