Corporate Expansion & Relocation

New business address has southern appeal

South Orange County gains momentum

Technology hasn't hurt the delivery business

By Steve Layton

In 1995, when sunglasses manufacturer Oakley announced plans to build a 425,000-square-foot signature corporate headquarters, manufacturing and warehousing facility in the master planned community of Foothill Ranch, it marked a new era for

South Orange County.

Known for its rolling hills and master planned residential communities, the southern enclaves of South Orange County comprising Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Irvine, Foothill Ranch, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Margarita were primarily considered bedroom communities for the central business districts surrounding Orange County's John Wayne Airport area.

And, although South Orange County does include the country's premier technology address, the 3,600-acre Irvine Spectrum, at its northwest boundary, it is the impact made in recent years by some of the region's and nation's well-known corporations' and a number of large industrial users' decisions to relocate their facilities even further south of the county's central business district that have been so significant.

Indeed, the success of the Irvine Spectrum has a great deal to do with the evolution and success of the business park's southern neighbors. To date, 2,200 companies employing more than 36,000 people now make their home in the Spectrum.

In a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, officials noted that the Spectrum has been very successful and is expected to be completed in 25 years, instead of the 40 it had originally projected. Moreover, the Spectrum was designed to collect the fast growing entrepreneurs flowing out of the urban core of the LA basin. In fact most of the Spectrum's tenants are young entrepreneurs in search of plentiful land and safe neighborhoods. The park's real heyday was in the 1980s when the Spectrum's developer, The Irvine Company, managed to appeal to executives moving into the newer planned communities of South Orange County. Many simply decided they didn't want to

fight the traffic of a daily commute to central Orange County or Los Angeles.

Indeed, the success of the Spectrum coupled with these evolving trends in site selection have proven a strong catalyst for the growth of the communities located even further from the central business districts of Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Consider the fact, recent commercial real estate reports indicate that not only is construction up in many sectors but a majority of the new space including build-to-suit and speculative construction is located in these southern communities and the Irvine Spectrum.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.