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The Village of Woodbridge

Posted: 23 Jan 2012 04:00 AM PST

Wendy Larson has lived in Irvine for over twelve years. She graduated from Woodbridge High School, took some courses at Irvine Valley College and eventually graduated from Penn State University as the Student Marshal with Highest Distinction. After graduation, Wendy was awarded a teaching assistantship in the South of France. After a year of working abroad Wendy moved back to Irvine. She is currently a Senior Operational Trainer at a health care company in Costa Mesa. Wendy spends her free time writing, public speaking and mentoring individuals looking to improve their speaking skills.

Located in one of the most picturesque areas of Irvine, Woodbridge Village offers distinct housing communities, charming views and an atmosphere that appeals to families, couples and singles alike. Nestled between the major streets of Jeffrey and Culver, and intersected by Barranca Parkway (North Lake) and Alton (South Lake), Woodbridge Village is situated around two gorgeous lakes and is convenient to all community amenities.

The residential communities consist of a mixture between single family residences, condos and apartments. Take a drive on East Yale Loop and West Yale Loop to get a scope of the residential neighborhoods within Woodbridge Village. This area is intrinsically unique in look and feel from the rest of Irvine. Much of the community is maintained by the Woodbridge Village Association, to which residents must pay homeowner’s association dues. The Association owns and operates 41 recreational facilities and does a great job ensuring these facilities are clean and well landscaped for all to enjoy.

The area has a close proximity to dining, shopping, parks, and athletic fields. Dotted along Barranca Parkway are major shopping centers, including the Woodbridge Village shopping center, The Crossroads, Woodbridge Square and the District at Tustin Legacy. If you’re looking for entertainment, dining and shopping in one spot, Woodbridge Village is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the nearby Irvine Spectrum. If education is your top priority, Woodbridge Village is within walking distance to Eastshore Elementary, Stone Creek Elementary, South Lake Elementary, Meadow Park Elementary, Lakeside Middle School, Woodbridge High School and Irvine Valley College. The Woodbridge Village shopping center also offers extracurricular educational facilities including Kumon Math and Reading Center, Mission: Renaissance Fine Arts Classes, and Aloha Mind Math.

The most popular attractions of this region are the North and South lakes. Two bridges, one spanning across Alton and the other crossing Barranca Parkway, link together the pedestrian access to both lakes. Enjoy the mountain backdrop as you relax in the gazebo on the lake, and watch the children feed the ducks. Or, grab a window booth in Ruby’s Aqua Diner and enjoy a meal while gazing over the water.

If fitness is on your agenda, you’ll appreciate how the layout of the community encourages exercise by providing bike trails where cyclists and joggers can enjoy a pleasant and safe route through the neighborhoods. CorePower Yoga offers day, night and weekend classes for beginners to advanced yoga enthusiasts. And of course, nearly all major gyms are within fifteen minutes driving distance. 

With its convenient location, stunning views, and alluring housing, it’s worth giving Woodbridge Village some consideration if you want to buy in the city of Irvine. If you’re thinking it seems too good to be true, you may want to scope out the area to see if it’s right for you. Let me point out a few things you may want to consider should you decide to take a deeper dive into the community.

The oldest parts of Woodbridge date back to the 1970s, and it is obvious the housing is more dated than the rest of Irvine. The majority of Woodbridge Village was designed to reflect the New England Cape Cod style, which is visually prominent in the housing tracks bordering the lakes. But let’s be honest here folks. This is not Cape Cod, nor does it feel like Cape Cod! You can only pull off the Cape Cod style on the East Coast. It doesn’t belong in Orange County. California has its own coastal flair. We are deeply rooted in a contemporary look and feel, which the newer communities celebrate. The early architects of Irvine may not have fathomed the growth and development of the planned communities that currently populate the city. The California stucco and neutral color palette that characterize the newer housing and retail developments make Woodbridge Village stick out like a sore thumb. Because of the change in aesthetics, Woodbridge Village seems old.

The Woodbridge Village shopping center is drab. It’s one of the few timber constructed centers in all of Irvine. The wooden shingle exteriors and deeper paint colors make the center seem dark with too much shade. Other than Ruby’s, Stein Mart and Barnes & Noble, there aren’t any big name retail draws. Sometimes I wonder how these businesses keep their doors open. Ten years ago it used to be full of boutique style shops, but newer strip malls attract more crowds and the center is now home to more medical offices rather than stores. While the Woodbridge Village shopping center contains a movie theatre, the movies are several months old and have already cycled through the regular circuit. By the time the movies reach the Woodbridge Village theatre you’ll have read the reviews online or have gotten the Cliff’s Notes version from your kids. There is a sandbox area with over-sized concrete frogs that the kiddies can climb on, but let’s face it, with awesome lakes flanking both sides of the center the frogs seem a little lame. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture of the center. It’s a nice center to walk through and relax in. I just think the whole center, much like Woodbridge Village, needs an overhaul or at least a facelift.

There are additional areas that need some love. The scars of failed businesses and empty buildings give the area a depressive feel. For example, the Waters Restaurant is now an empty shell sitting on the lake. With its premium location, the restaurant was once an impressive dining experience. Currently it’s boarded up. A razed gas station surrounded by a chain link fence in the parking lot of the Woodbridge Village shopping center, is an eyesore. The timber constructed Bank of America has packed up shop and the space is now inhabited by a less well-known credit union. Then there’s the dark wooden shingle Wachovia building. It looks like it’s sagging. Maybe it’s because Wells Fargo bought them out. Other areas look downright deserted. Some people might call the neighborhoods quiet. Others would describe it as a reminder of tough times. I think that if retail traffic increased and if the buildings could be updated, Woodbridge might have a fighting chance. The truth is however, that Woodbridge Village has been overrun with medical offices that cater to the nearby retirement community. It would be hard to restore it. 

Woodbridge Village is still a wonderful community to live in. Just because it’s an older community doesn’t mean it lacks charm. My advice: look at the big picture and decide if Woodbridge Village matches your preferences.


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