Construction set to begin on new retail, cultural centers at Great Park

A new retail center is set to open at the Great Park in 2026. Located at the corner of Bosque and Great Park Boulevard, The Canopy is expected to feature 80,000 square feet of amenities, including an anchor grocery store, sit-down and fast-casual restaurants and retail shops.

“Creating a space that feels like a community center where you can spend the entire day, blending in local, regional and national tenants in a thoughtful way, that’s ultimately what we’re looking to do here,” says City Manager Oliver Chi.

Almquist, the city’s partner for the project, has developed Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton and the upcoming River Street Marketplace in San Juan Capistrano.

Steve Madrigal, who lives just a few minutes’ walk from the proposed site, visited those centers to get a sense of what The Canopy might offer.

“I think it’s going to be great,” he says. “I’ve lived here eight years, and I’ve been waiting for something like this since day one. It’ll be a nice place to have a cup of coffee and for the community to hang out. I’d like to leave the car behind and just walk.”

The city also plans to retrofit the 12,000-square-foot Hangar 244 into a food hall, creating a seamless connection with The Canopy. The pathway linking Hangar 244 to The Canopy is envisioned to be a retail promenade, lined with restaurants and shops.

More amenities coming

The Canopy is set to open in mid-2026, coinciding with the first phase of development in the Cultural Terrace area of the Great Park. This phase will introduce several cultural institutions, including Orange County Music & Dance, the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, Pretend City Children’s Museum and the Asian American History Museum.

Orange County Music & Dance, a nonprofit community arts-education school in Irvine, broke ground in May on a new 35-acre campus that will feature classrooms, rehearsal and performance spaces with professional acoustics, and a 450-seat theater shared with community groups and ensembles.

Additionally, significant park developments are scheduled for completion between 2027 and 2029. These include a permanent amphitheater accommodating up to 10,000 people, two lakes that cover 35-acres, the Great Meadow and various recreational facilities.

The Veterans Memorial Park and Gardens, which will feature a Walk of Honor on an existing tarmac to honor those connected to the former base, is also included in the framework plan. Adjacent to this, botanical gardens will offer a serene environment with trails, dry creeks and themed spaces, as well as a public library.

When fully built, the 1,300-acre Great Park will be larger than San Diego’s Balboa Park and be more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park.