IRVINE, Calif.—City council voted unanimously to construct a 100-acre botanical garden in the Great Park on Sept. 28.
The request to consider the garden was brought forward by Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Mike Carroll in late July. On Sept. 28, the council was joined by the Great Park Garden Coalition to discuss the project.
“One of my big goals is to have a botanical garden at the Great Park here in Irvine,” Kim said in a Sept. 28 tweet. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something beautiful and awe-inspiring that can be appreciated by current and future generations.”
Residents of Irvine stood in support of the garden’s development, informing the council of the benefits it will bring to the community.
“Having a botanic garden at the Great Park will certainly allow us to see and learn about the wide diversity of plant life,” Irvine resident Chris Lovell said at the council meeting. “It’s hard to imagine any other amenity like a botanical garden that brings together a diversity of people enjoying the beauty of the natural environment and enjoying a variety of activities and events together.”
The council directed city staff to locate 75 to 100 acres of land within the Great Park specifically designated for the botanical garden.
While funding options for the botanical garden are unclear, city officials seek funding options and to discuss the first steps of development. Kim requested an approved amendment that would issue a request for proposal of a botanical garden consultant to assist with design and explore funding.
The Great Park was known as the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station from 1943 to 1999. In 2003, the city of Irvine officially obtained the land leading to the beginning stages of development for the park.
In 2017, the city conducted a feasibility study for a 60-acre botanical garden in the Great Park’s cultural terrace. The preliminary findings estimated costs of over $50 million to develop and $3.6 million to operate in a stabilized year.
The study said the garden had the potential to generate $1.8 million in earned revenue from admissions, facility rentals, and retail sales.
The botanical garden is among the many development projects in the park alongside a water park and amphitheater.