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Developer Proposes Game-Changing Mixed-Use In Orange County



Mike Harrah has ambitious plans for the former home of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana.
Orange County Register

He attempted to purchase the Orange County Register out of bankruptcy about two years ago, but those efforts ultimately fell apart. Nonetheless, Harrah pressed forward for a deal for the company’s real estate, which was vacant after the publication relocated to Anaheim.  

As the Los Angeles Times shares, Harrah has unveiled plans for a $1 billion mixed-use complex that will be a real game changer if it advances to the development stage. “It will be a mini urban city within itself,” he said, noting that it would be “the biggest one in the history of Orange County.”

Plans call for a 2.3-million-square-foot development that will span across the 20-acre Grand Avenue site. Early renderings are nothing short of stunning, as Harrah has plans to build Orange County’s tallest buildings, a 171-room hotel, more than 1,000 residences, as well as offices and retail shops. 

The project is known as 625IVE, and architecture firm Gensler is on board for design. Harrah hopes to have it built within five years, but that will, of course, depend on the speed of the approval process. Lars Platt, senior managing director for Cushman & Wakefield’s Orange County office, offered up some thoughts on this massive proposal.  

“Unlike the area Mike is building, the Spectrum is surrounded by the most desired housing ... in all of the housing of Orange County,” Platt said. “I would be very, very, very surprised if any prospective construction lender would seriously consider that redevelopment of the [Register] project.”

Kurt Strasmann, senior managing director of CBRE Group Inc.’s Orange County Region, sees things differently. 

“It’s not an easy feat for anyone in any circumstance,” Strasmann noted, adding “[But] can they do it? You bet.”

Jim Young, an architect who is leading the design team for Gensler, offered up some insight into the vision behind the design of the project.  “The idea is to respect what is there,” he said. “There is so much history with the O.C.R.”

Regardless of the speculation about whether or not Harrah can pull it off or not, this is clearly a project that will benefit the area as a whole. “It’s a big win for everyone if this thing comes together,” Strasmann added. 

We’ll have to keep an eye on this one to see how it plays out, but it’s further evidence that massive mixed-use developments are gaining a ton of traction across the nation. 

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