UC-Irvine's Aldrich Park is a magnet for students - and residents too.
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Long before developers embraced the idea of mixed-use communities, there was Irvine. It was born in the 1960s, when the University of California commissioned architect William Pereira to design a new campus and town. Today, its population hovers around 200,000, yet it feels much smaller thanks to its tight-knit neighborhoods and more than 16,000 acres of green space.
Families say Irvine is pretty close to perfect. The school district has won national recognition for stellar test scores, innovative curriculums, year-round schedules and open-style classrooms. The university is the city's largest employer, but some two dozen companies, from Gateway to St. John's Knits, also call Irvine home.
A big drawback: the cost of housing. A typical three-bedroom, two-bath house can run about $700,000, says Cesi Pagano, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty. But prices in Irvine have held up better than those elsewhere in Orange County, and foreclosures aren't nearly as widespread.
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