Covering the Spectrum


ne would be hard-pressed to think of an American city that, over time, hasn’t grappled with its geographic size. Either by compressing or expanding itself to deliver amenities and services to its residents, the successful city constantly seeks to remain vibrant and viable. Irvine, California, has been playing out its own scenario for 57 years, combining long-term forward thinking with state-of-the-art enhancements to create Irvine Spectrum,® widely regarded as today’s prototypical live-workplay model.

The area is coming to resemble a city within a city. Irvine Spectrum Center,® an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment destination that features a multiplex cinema, comedy club and some 150 boutiques, stores and eateries, is the social hub of Irvine’s thriving residential and business neighborhoods. The Spectrum, as it has come to be known by local patrons, is in the midst of a $200 million reinvestment campaign that will add 30 more stores and restaurants to the roster. Fully one-third of Fortune 500 companies and some 900 technology companies conduct business in and around the Spectrum, while employees can walk or bike to work from its five luxury rental communities and beyond. One of the newcomers to the reinvestment project is 9-year-old Stance, which, despite its San Clemente roots, waited quite some time for the right opportunity to open an Orange County shop. The 1,800-square-foot space is slated to open August 18 in the Spectrum’s expansion wing.

Aerial view of Irvine Spectrum Center. Ling 2016.

With a mission to transform a forgotten category — socks — into a coveted accessory, Stance has won over performance athletes and superstars to become the official sock of the NBA and Major League Baseball. Influencers including Rihanna, James Harden, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Chin and Bubba Watson have gotten behind the brand, which has also launched men’s underwear and women’s intimates lines. Beyond their meticulous construction, the products’ creative design aesthetic draws younger shoppers.

“It’s one thing to see a product online, but it’s another thing to touch and feel it.” — PAUL ZAENGLE Executive VP of Direct-to-Consumer, Stance

“Spectrum is a perfect fit for us,” said Paul Zaengle, Stance’s executive vice president of direct-to-consumer. “This store will be a great expression of our brand: the breadth of product, how innovative and technical it is, the quality and effort we put into making it, the fit. It’s one thing to see a product online, but it’s another thing to touch and feel it. “We like the demographic — young shoppers, young families — and we love the multiuse aspect, which we see as the shopping destination model of the future. They’re getting it right, and we’re happy to be part of it.”

John Ho, CEO of Landsea Homes, considers Orange County to be ground zero for the homebuilding industry. “We started in Los Angeles, but our ecosystem — architects, engineers, banks, lawyers — is in Orange County, so moving to Irvine has made it easy to recruit experienced personnel.”

With Southern California projects stretching from Lake Forest to Ventura County, Landsea looked for an office location that would provide easy access to transportation for its operations team. Irvine Spectrum offered that and more. “We don’t just sit in offices,” said Ho. “We have to go see the dirt, so between the convergence of the freeways and the proximity to the coast, it didn’t get any better than this.”

The configuration of the two-story building at 7525 Irvine Center Drive also satisfied Landsea’s needs. “We have superintendents, salespeople, contractors, vendors carrying construction plans and coming and going,” said Ho. “It’s easy to park here and walk up one flight of stairs. The floor plan was really optimal.”

The icing on the cake was the decision by Irvine Company® to add a Kinetic gym replete with showers, towel service and a full range of equipment to the office park. “It’s been great, and it fits nicely with our corporate wellness program,” said Ho. Landsea staffers also take advantage of the parks for midday walks and outdoor seating in beautifully landscaped areas on bag-lunch days.

“Spectrum® is an amazing amenity for our employees and also for our shareholders,” said Ho. “It all made a lot of sense.”

Tracy Borkum, owner of CUCINA enoteca, sees her 2012 entry into Irvine Spectrum Center as a turning point in the growth of her business. When she moved downstate some 24 years ago, her aim was to replicate San Francisco’s neighborhood bistro scene in downtown San Diego. She currently owns and operates three in the area: CUCINA urbana, CUCINA enoteca Del Mar and “little sister” cucina SORELLA.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d open outside of an urban setting,” said the London-born-and-raised restaurateur, “but when the opportunity was brought to me, I realized that Irvine Company was on the cutting edge of transforming shopping and retail into a destination experience. Bringing in a street-facing restaurant such as CUCINA delivered a different flavor and experience to the Spectrum. They took a risk on me, and for my part I made that shift.”

The popular indoor-outdoor restaurant is known not only for its bustling bar, comfy patio and community tables, but also for the on-site retail wine store, where diners can purchase wine to take home or enjoy a bottle à table in exchange for a hard-to-beat $9 corkage fee. The CUCINA restaurants, which now include a location in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island,® also offer their house-designed furnishings, candles, lighting and knickknacks for purchase, with a selection on-site and the rest available online ( “It’s been a really positive partnership,” said Borkum of her dealings with Irvine Company. “The Spectrum team invested in me and we stepped up to the plate and proved that it was the right thing to do. I’m 100% glad I made that decision.”

“Overall, being in the city of Irvine itself is a win-win.” — TRACY BORKUM

Borkum is optimistic that over the coming decade, business will remain strong at Irvine Spectrum. “The development of condos and apartment buildings, plus all the office space, is fantastic for us. We’re enjoying a strong lunch period from the nearby corporate offices, and nighttime dinner is brisk from the residents and retail center patrons. Overall, being in the city of Irvine itself is a win-win.”

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