Columbia Square: A Community Near U.C. Irvine
Columbia Square in Irvine: An Urban Experience
The community of Columbia Square was one of the first subdivisions created within the village of the University Town Center. It was developed beginning in 1981 across from the University of California at Irvine and, at the time, was an innovative concept in the City of Irvine’s new urban community, as this intimate neighborhood offered residents the comfort and convenience of an urban lifestyle.
Columbia Square: Eclectic Environment in A Serene Setting
All the Columbia Square condos and town homes come with a 2-space covered carport (even the one bedroom model), and many of them are situated on Columbia Square park or wide greenbelts, or quiet interior streets.
Because they were built back in the early ’80’s, (between 1980 and 1983), the area is lush with greenery, mature trees, and flowering bushes that offer a quiet respite from the hustle-bustle of today’s active lifestyle. Here you will find singles, roommates, college-age students, young families, and seniors living and enjoying the wonderful urban environment that Columbia Square has to offer its residents.
Indeed, many people envision Columbia Square as a haven for one age group only, i.e., college students. However, look beyond the surface and one will discover that there are many seniors living in the neighborhood who enjoy the youthful, eclectic environment that the University Town Center has to offer. On many occasions, you will find young and old carrying (or pushing in shopping carts) groceries from the local Albertson’s supermarket in the Campus Plaza.
There are caution crossing signs on Harvard and Columbia within a few blocks of Columbia Square for motorists to slow down for the “senior citizen crossing.” And, of course, there are also housing specific to seniors, i.e. the assisted living residences of Regent’s Point, across the street from Columbia Square, at Harvard and California, and the Brookdale Inn at the Park, located a few blocks away at 10 Marquette, across from the University Center.
An Historical Note Regarding Columbia Square
By way of an historical or trivia note, Columbia Square was built by Donald Bren beginning in 1981, when prices for a one bedroom, one bath Abbey model started at $102,500, and interest rates for a 30 year fixed rate loan was 13 ‘% (and we are complaining about rising interest rates today).
We are currently witnessing prices for this model that is inching toward the $400,000 mark, while interest rates are still in the low 4% range for a 30 year fixed mortgage. At the time, back in 1981, the builder was offering buy down programs which offered 12% mortgages for the first 3 years, and market rate for the next 27 years (which was, at the time, 17%, if you can fathom that!).
Loan fees at the time were 2 points + $100. The Bren Company was also offering a no money down program where the builder would carry an “All Inclusive Trust Deed” at 13 ‘% interest with a three year due date with total closing costs amounting to $895.00 (not including tax impounds)! This now sounds implausible, but it is true.
Close by the neighborhood’s Columbia Square Park was created with swimming pool, spa, sand volleyball area, basketball, tot lot, and picnic areas.
Later additional facilities were expanded to include Cornell Commons in which residents may access a Junior Olympic Size swimming pool, tennis courts, and a soccer field.
Columbia Square residents may also utilize Princeton and Stanford Park‘s recreational facilities each of which contain a pool, spa, barbecues, tennis courts, tot lots, and picnic areas.
The Homeowners’ Association is called Columbia Square Maintenance Association.
Recently, the Board Members have designed an informative web site for the purpose of involving residents and future homeowners in the history, activities and future plans of the community.
Columbia Square Models
At its inception, there were four floor plans offered: Later, a fifth floor plan, the Esher, was added:
The Abbey is a one-story, one bedroom, one bath named, which is either ground level or a carriage unit. There are, as an exception, a total of four Abbeys that were built with no one above. This model is always on the end and has a large living room with a wood or gas-burning fireplace, a spacious bedroom with a triple closet, a very open kitchen with gas appliances and a breakfast bar, a large formal dining area and doors out to either a patio (downstairs) or private enclosed balcony (upstairs). The Abbey comes with a two-space covered carport.
The Bedford is a one-story, two bedroom, one bath which is also either ground level or a carriage unit. There are, as an exception, a total of four Bedfords that were built with no one above. This model is always an end unit and has a very spacious master bedroom with a triple closet, an ample size secondary bedroom, a large living room with a wood or gas-burning fireplace, a open kitchen with doors out to a spacious patio (downstairs) or private enclosed balcony (upstairs) and a large formal dining area. The Bedford comes with a two-space covered carport.
The Chatham is a two-story, two bedroom, one and three half baths model and has a large living room with a fireplace and an adjacent with doors out to a large, private enclosed patio area. The spacious kitchen has lots of cabinetry, gas appliances, a pantry, and a breakfast bar. There are two ample size bedroom upstairs with a full bath and on either side each has its own private half bath. There is a guest (1/2) bath downstairs. The Chatham comes with a two-space covered carport and may be either an interior (with homes on both sides) or an end unit.
The Dover is a two-story, two bedroom, two and one-half bath model has two large master suites upstairs, each with its own full, private bath. There is a guest (1/2) bath downstairs. The kitchen is huge with gas appliances, lots of cabinetry and a large breakfast bar. There is a large living room with a wood or gas burning fireplace and an adjacent dining are with doors out to a large, private enclosed patio area. The Dover model comes with a two-space covered carport and may be either an interior (with homes on both sides) or an end unit.
The Esher model was later added which is also a one-story, two bedroom, one bath model, although configured differently. This model is always an end unit and has a living room with a fireplace, an adjacent dining area, and a kitchen with gas appliances. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet, and there is an ample size secondary bedroom. The Esher model comes with a two-space covered carport.
Near Campus Plaza & the University Center
Located across California Street, a short distance from Columbia Square town homes/condos, there are a variety of shops and services which have evolved over the years to include, of course, a Starbucks Coffee Shop, a necessary beginning to many a people’s day, and Koba Tofu Grill, an Asian inspired restaurant offering wonderful food (with large portions) and hours for late-night dining-out along with the convenience of a supermarket (Albertson’s), a bank, and a myriad number of local retail establishments within the Campus Plaza shopping center.
A wide pedestrian promenade winds through the University Town Center, linking Columbia Square’s town homes/condos with other adjacent neighborhoods, parks, and the community’s town square commercial center originally named the Market Place but renamed the University Center as to not be confused with the Market Place on the Tustin/Irvine border.
Award-Winning Schools Within Columbia Square’s Neighborhood
One of the reasons for moving to the community of Cambridge Court is its locations within the award-winning Irvine Unified School District‘s Turtle Rock Elementary School, awarded a California Distinguished school in 2002 and highly sought entry for its high scores and special program for gifted children (GATE), for Rancho Middle School, also well rated in terms of school scores, and University High School, consistently ranked nationally as one of the best high schools in the country, and which boasts a large number of advanced placement classes, students awarded merit scholarships, and large class admission to the top University of California schools as well as the top private colleges and universities.
University High School has been named both a California Distinguished School and a National Exemplary School. In addition to great Irvine public schools, the community of Columbia Square is located near two Montessori preschools, the University Montessori School located on the U.C. Irvine campus and the Village Montessori School located in University Park, several church-related preschools, and additional private pre-schools, all within a few minutes commute.
Celebrate & Play in William R. Mason Regional Park
Also located across the street on Harvard, bordering Culver Drive and University Drive is William R. Mason Regional Park, well-known for its gathering of friends and family for the festive, annual celebration in the spring of the Persian New Year. Indeed, the regional park is host to many a company and family picnic as well as kite and model plane flying, model boat racing, jogging, biking, strolling or just plain relaxing around the duck pond.
Visit the University Center and the Barclay Theater
A few blocks toward the U. C. Irvine campus, one can see ones favorite art movie at the Edwards University Town Center in the University Center, or attend a live concert, dance program, or other venue at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.If exercising is your passion, but you prefer the indoors, there is a 24-hour Family Fitness center also located in the University Center to burn those excess calories you put on eating an In-and-Out Burger close by.
Bike, Jog, Skateboard, Kayak Along the Upper Newport Bay
For those who enjoy a longer bike ride, jog, or stroll, one can pick up the trail from Harvard and University Drive along the Santa Ana river bed that will take you all along the Upper Newport Ecological Reserve where you will see an amazing array of migratory birds, as well as an occasional, coyote or raccoon, and flora and fauna native to the area.
This trail, if taken its length, will lead you past the U.C. Irvine crew clubhouse and to the Newport Dunes where you can dine in a restaurant overlooking the bay or rent a kayak or rowboat for a fun-filled boating excursion.
The Friends of the Newport Bay often host tours on the weekends throughout the year, if you would prefer something a bit more educational, and, of course, there are various charity marathons and walks in which you can participate that utilize these trails at different times of the year.
Columbia Square is Freeway, Airport & Beach Close
As a resident of Columbia Square neighborhood, one is also close to major business and commercial centers and major shopping areas such as the Irvine Business District, South Coast Plaza, and Fashion Island, as well as in proximity to freeway access (the 405, the 5, and the 55 freeways, as well as the 73 and 133 Toll Roads; John Wayne Airport (Orange County Airport) is within a ten minute drive, and the Upper Newport Ecological Reserve, is a bike ride, jog, stroll, skateboard, or short drive from town home/condo neighborhoods within the University Town Center.
Robin Fenchel: Specializing in Columbia Square Since 1986
In sum, the community of Columbia Square, within the greater University Town Center, has much to offer. If Robin Fenchel can further elaborate on anything contained herein or if you have any questions regarding the neighborhood of Columbia Square or any one of the other neighborhoods within the University Town Center including Princeton Townhomes, Cambridge Court, or Oxford Court, please do not hesitate to e-mail Robin.Robin Fenchel has been assisting buyers and sellers within the University Town Center’s community of Columbia Square since 1986, and would delight in assisting in any way possible your move to the community.Eric has been involved in the financial, business and investment side since 1979. Robin Fenchel and Eric have raised two children in the local school district, and are actively involved in the community.Please feel free to e-mail Robin Fenchel with any questions regarding real estate. Robin Fenchel would be delighted to assist in any way possible your move to the community in and around the University of California at Irvine.