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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

FivePoint’s OC Mission: Everything Old Can Be New Again

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Take Emile Haddad literally and seriously.

Last month, the chairman and CEO of master land developer FivePoint Holdings LLC said at the Balboa Bay Resort one reason Orange County might have a youth problem is that they think the place is boring. The kids are all right but the county is increasingly concerned they think somewhere else is better.

He and his Irvine-based firm are doing their best to liven up the place—with work and funding commitments that touches and adds zip to nearly every facet of life for local residents, from their homes to entertainment choices, to their education and employment options, to sporting pursuits and healthcare needs.

At the event in Newport Beach, Haddad shared the stage with Bill Carpou, chief executive of med-tech accelerator OCTANe, to dish details on a new deal between the two: OCTANe will move its headquarters from Aliso Viejo to FivePoint Gateway, an office project at Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine.

The move mirrors one FivePoint itself made not long ago and follows the addition of the development’s new City of Hope campus, now coming together under longtime local healthcare exec Annette Walker.

Carpou said at the event—a High Tech Awards show with several hundred in attendance—the move “is the beginning of a center of gravity for OC” to touch, he added, innovation and beyond.

Youth Movement

Simon & Garfunkel sang of being “older than I once was, and younger than I’ll be,” but George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn once feted Bob Dylan with the refrain, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

So all is not lost.

Still, knowing less about those guys and more about Flatbush Zombies, Cage the Elephant and Neck Deep—each of which played at the 12,000-seat FivePoint Amphitheatre this year—may be key to connecting with younger OCers. The development has also been the site of beer festivals and other community events.

Haddad’s got it covered.

The company’s work at the Great Park Neighborhoods, and the surrounding Orange County Great Park in Irvine, includes several dozen soccer and sports fields; entry-level homes and spots for multigenerational families to live, and an expanding office contingent; as well as the in-process OCTANe and City of Hope efforts.

The overarching work fits in well to the off-stated “live-work-play” motif of FivePoint and the area’s other top developers.

OC can’t just tell companies to come, and bring the kids, saying “it’s a cool place. We have to show them,” Haddad told the Balboa Bay crowd assembled. OC needs to “check every box” it can.

“A city is being built there,” Carpou said.

Giving

FivePoint gave $1 million to Irvine Public Schools Foundation, led by CEO and President Neda Eaton, this fall.

Roughly concurrent with the OCTANe event, it gave another $1 million to USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy to help others do what FivePoint is doing in Irvine, and in other massive projects in the state: “create the vision of sustainable communities.”

Haddad, an émigré from war-torn Lebanon, addressed minority grads of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate in 2018 urging them to push the limits of their ideas. “I stand before you as proof” it can work, he said.

Growing Young

OC both is and isn’t getting any younger.

The amphitheater—which FivePoint sponsors but does not run—has hosted millennial-aged acts but its roster also included more established acts such as Santana, Doobie Brothers, UB40, Morrissey, Interpol, Elvis Costello, Hootie & the Blowfish, and Blondie.

In short, FivePoint knows it needs both an OCTANe and a City of Hope.

OCTANe-affiliated companies—another FivePoint nonprofit partnership—raised more than $300 million in the first half of the year; more than 500 entrepreneurs have used the group’s SBDC, LaunchPad.

City of Hope is a $1 billion effort planned for a 2021 opening and 2025 “fully operational” status, a cancer-focused research hospital including chemotherapy, radiation, surgical oncology, ambulatory surgery, personalized medicine, clinical trials, and, City of Hope President Robert Stone has said, drug manufacturing, on a dozen acres of land.

FivePoint’s overarching effort to pull generations together into a life, was evidenced in another charitable push this year, the recording of life stories for a Library of Congress storytelling project this summer, in which Haddad’s tale was drawn out in an interview by his daughter, Serene, who also works at FivePoint.

As the obvious plan—build a city—takes shape with specifics, Haddad’s got things to say and people are listening.

Companies can’t get complacent, he said in September. In that direction lays the sclerotic dragon of obsolescence.

“People who hear me,” he told the Balboa Bay crowd, “know I am on a mission.”

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