Irvine shops are tops – by design

Woodbridge Village Center is the latest example of the Irvine difference.

by TOM BERG

An audacious plan recently was hatched to remodel one of Irvine’s oldest and dearest retail centers — Woodbridge Village Center.

The $30 million plan called for removing a two‑story building filled with shops, and replacing it with an open promenade.  Why would anyone do that?  Let’s take a look …

25 Centers Upgraded

Woodbridge is just one example of how Irvine continually updates its retail centers to make them more attractive for shopping and socializing.

In the last three years, more than 25 centers have been upgraded — unheard of in almost any city — including the $200 million reinvestment in Irvine Spectrum Center now underway.

“It makes a huge difference,” says long-time retail analyst Greg Stoffel, of Stoffel & Associates. “In other communities, stores wear out, signage gets old, colors fade, and parking lots fall apart. You don’t see that in Irvine.”

What you see in Irvine are retail centers with lush landscaping, mature trees, comfortable furniture, outside dining, thoughtful lighting and something else: people spaces.  Which leads back to that audacious plan at Woodbridge Village Center.

The Front Porch

Why replace stores with a promenade?

The answer is that Woodbridge Village Center is more than just a place to shop. It’s a place to bring the kids, meet friends for lunch, stroll, relax and enjoy the sunshine.  

And now, all of that is easier on its one-acre promenade, called “the front porch,” with broad walkways, soft-turf playground, lawn, shaded tables and chairs overlooking the lake.

Planners at Irvine Company, which owns the center, realized that by removing one building, they could change the entire character of the center. They could open up views clear to the Santa Ana Mountains, and create a true community gathering place.

“We’re investing in more than a retail center,” says Irvine Company’s Senior VP of Retail Operations Ken Gillett. “We’re investing in a community.”

The Irvine Difference

Irvine’s Master Plan calls for retail centers to serve individual neighborhoods — to cut travel time and generate tens of millions of tax dollars for city priorities like public safety and parks.

These retail centers are designed to higher standards than elsewhere, and provide more amenities. That’s the Irvine difference — offering you a shopping experience you can’t buy online, or anywhere else.


More than shopping and dining

Here are just a few things that make Irvine’s retail centers unique.

  • Gathering Spaces – Irvine retail centers feature modern, comfortable furniture and landscaped dining areas connected with wi-fi.
  • Beautiful Places – Centers feature mature landscaping accented with paseos, fountains, plants and trellises, sophisticated lighting for safety, and undergo continuous reinvestment to keep them fresh and clean.
  • Earth-friendly – From organic fertilizers, to drip irrigation, to smart valves that save millions of gallons of water, Irvine centers are designed to leave a gentle footprint on nature.