Irvine Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Irvine Company LLC
IndustryReal estate
Community development
Property investment
Urban planning
Urban design
Founded1864 (1864)
FounderJames Irvine
United States
Number of locations
Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego County, Silicon Valley
Area served
Key people
Donald Bren (Chairman)

The Irvine Company LLC is an American private company focused on real estate development. It is headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with a large portion of its operations centered in and around Irvine, California, a planned city of about 280,000 people mainly designed by the Irvine Company. The company was founded by the Irvine family and is currently wholly owned by Donald Bren. Since the company is private, its financials are not released to the public. However, Donald Bren is the wealthiest real estate developer in the United States, with a net worth of $16.4 billion in 2019.[1]

Hay harvest in 1891 on the Irvine Ranch
1953 Boy Scout Jamboree Site


The Irvine Company grew from the premises of a 185-square-mile (480 km2) ranch founded by James Irvine I,[2] Benjamin and Thomas Flint, and Llewellyn Bixby in 1864 from three adjoining Mexican land grants. Irvine and his partners began by purchasing the Rancho San Joaquin, which constitutes the coastal half of the present-day ranch, from Jose Antonio Sepulveda. A drought that killed his livestock forced Sepulveda to sell his ranch in 1864. The partners purchased Rancho Lomas de Santiago—largely unfarmable due to its steep, hilly terrain—in 1866 from William Wolfskill, who had used it largely as a sheep ranch. Flint, Bixby and Irvine were among the claimants of a title lawsuit that divided Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana in 1868. Unlike other early Newport Beach landowners, Irvine and his partners had no interest in subdividing and selling, intent, instead, upon identifying the most lucrative agricultural uses for their enormous tract of land, spanning over 120,000 acres. Irish-born Irvine met Collis Huntington, soon to become one of the Central Pacific Railroad (CPR) magnates, on a trip across the Atlantic. Rather than cementing a friendship, a disagreement that lasted throughout their lives resulted. When Huntington's Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) needed Irvine's land for its route between Orange County and San Diego, Irvine refused. When SP crews began laying tracks on Irvine land without permission, ranch hands with shotguns confronted the crews. Eventually, Irvine gave the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway permission to build on his ranch.[3]

When Irvine died in 1886, trustees, left in control of the ranch until James II turned 25, tried to sell it at auction. When this auction was declared illegal, his son took over the reins of the ranch and accelerated efforts to increase its agricultural production[4] In 1894, Irvine's son, James Irvine II, incorporated the land holdings as the Irvine Company. Between the late 1800s to the 1970s, the Irvine Company engaged in cattle operations on the property, with "Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp" serving as its center.[5][6] James Irvine remarked in 1867 that he and his men "rode about [the Irvine Ranch] a good deal, sometimes coming home in the evening after a thirty- or forty-mile ride pretty thoroughly tired out, but we had to do it in order to see much of the ranch and the flock." At the time, his Irvine Company had been purchasing further adjoining parcels of land, "[so] there [was] considerable riding to be done, if one [was] to see much of [the ranch]."[6]

In 1953, the National Scout Jamboree was held on Irvine Ranch land in the area of what is now Fashion Island Shopping Center. Jamboree Road, running from Newport Beach to Orange, was built to allow people to travel to the jamboree from nearby train stations. In 1961, the Irvine Company sold 990 acres to the University of California for $1.00 for what became the University of California at Irvine. Three years later, the company sold, at a discounted price, an additional 510 acres to the university. During the early 1960s, the university and company, together with architect William Pereira, designed the Irvine Ranch Master Plan for developing the surrounding area. The city of Irvine, whose citizens officially incorporated it in 1971, grew around the campus.

By the late 1970s, the Irvine Company had ceased its cattle business.[6] In 1977, the real estate developer Donald Bren began buying Irvine Company shares from the Irvine family.[7] With the Irvine Company's cattle operations finished, the Irvine Company sold the Bommer Canyon area to the City of Irvine between 1981 and 1982.[5] The City of Irvine purchased the land with grants obtained from the 1974 California Bond Act.[5] By 1983, Bren was the majority owner of the Irvine Company. By 1996, he had purchased all outstanding shares to be the sole owner of the Irvine Company.

The company laid off 1,700 staff in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which mostly affected 3 hotels and resorts.[8]


  • Donald Bren - Chairman
  • Charles Fedalen Jr. - President & Chief Financial Officer
  • Frank Abeling - Executive VP Real Estate Operations
  • Mark Ley - Executive VP & Chief Investment Officer
  • Dan Hedigan - President, Land Sales & Home Building
  • Jonathan Brinsden - President, Office Properties
  • Butch Knerr - President, Retail Properties
  • Jim Krohn - President, Apartment Operations


The Irvine Company develops suburban master-planned communities throughout central and southern Orange County, in addition to residential buildings in Santa Monica, Silicon Valley, and San Diego County.[9][citation needed] The company also owns and manages office buildings in Milpitas, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, San Diego, La Jolla Village/University City, Sorrento Mesa, Del Mar Heights, Newport Center, UCI locations, West Los Angeles, Pasadena, Chicago, and New York City.[10][citation needed] Donald Bren is its Chairman and sole shareholder.[11]

The 93,000-acre (380 km2) Irvine Ranch remains the core holding of The Irvine Company. Of the total ranch area, 44,000 acres (180 km2) is retained for development whilst the remainder are preserved as wilderness and recreational preserves collectively known as the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.

In August 2014, the Irvine Company announced plans to donate and preserve 2,500 additional acres of land previously approved for housing.[12] The Ranch encompasses almost one fifth of Orange County, from the Pacific Ocean and Newport Harbor, Laguna Beach, and Santa Ana Canyon, to the boundary of the Cleveland National Forest.

In part because of its land preservation grants, in 2018 The Irvine Company was named Business Philanthropist of the Year by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber also cited gifts of more than $220 million to city schools and universities.[13]

A partial list of cities within the boundaries of the Irvine Ranch includes:

The Irvine Company owns several large retail centers, including The Market Place and Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, and Fashion Island in Newport Beach, which is surrounded by the Newport Center commercial area. The Irvine Company also holds several office properties, particularly in Irvine and Newport Center, the 20th Century Studios Plaza in Century City, Los Angeles, the MetLife Building in New York City, and nearly 550 total properties throughout Coastal California.[citation needed]

Property List[edit]

City Property Name Num of Apartments
Santa Clara Santa Clara Square[14] ~800
Santa Clara Monticello[15] ~800
San Jose RiverView[16] ~500
San Jose North Park[17] 2,188
San Jose Crescent Village[18] ~500

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cassell, Warren (5 September 2019). "How Donald Bren Made His Fortune". Investopedia. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  2. ^ The Irvine Ranche Robert Glass Cleland. Huntington Library Press, 1962.
  3. ^ Baker, Gayle, Newport Beach, HarborTown Histories, Santa Barbara, CA, 2004, p. 14, 36, ISBN 9780971098435 (print) 9780987903839 (on-line)
  4. ^ Baker, p. 14-15
  5. ^ a b c "Bommer Canyon". Open Space & Nature Programs. City of Irvine. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Irvine Ranch: different by design, images 1960-2000. The Irvine Company. 2000. pp. 24, 26–30. ISBN 0-9709085-0-4.
  7. ^ Loudenback, Tanza. "Donald Trump is not America's richest real estate tycoon — it's another Donald who's worth almost $17 billion". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  8. ^ Prosser, Gregory (2020-10-07). "Donald Bren's Irvine Company has laid off 1,700 workers". The Real Deal Los Angeles. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  9. ^ "Irvine Apartment Communities - Southern California Luxury Real Estate". Irvine Company. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  10. ^ "Irvine Company Office Properties - Premier Facilities". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "Irvine Co. Chairman Bren Buys All Stock Held by Minority Shareholders". Los Angeles Times. 1996-07-19. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  12. ^ Cowan, Jill. "Final pieces of Irvine Ranch complete 'open-space puzzle' in O.C." LA Times. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Irvine Organizations, Individuals Recognized with Annual Business of the Year Awards at Celebrate Irvine". Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  14. ^ Avalos, George (2018-08-30). "Santa Clara Square creates urban village near busy roadways". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  15. ^ Zavoral, Linda (2016-10-07). "India's Yellow Chilli announces first U.S. location (of course it's Silicon Valley!)". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  16. ^ "River View in San Jose - 1 - 3 Bedroom & Studios". Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  17. ^ "North Park in San Jose - 1 - 3 Bedroom & Studios". Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  18. ^ "Crescent Village in San Jose - 1 - 3 Bedroom & Studios". Retrieved 2021-04-08.

External links[edit]