Overview: University Town Center (UTC) is a neighborhood in the southwestern area of Irvine, California. Adjacent to the University of California, Irvine (UCI), UTC is considered one of the best places to live in California. UTC has over 6,000 residents and is home to many young professionals who tend to be highly educated. There are no free-standing single family homes in the neighborhood. Instead, the area is populated with condominiums, townhomes and apartment buildings that accommodate the large number of renters in the area. Homes that are sold are usually more affordable than in other Southern California communities. The most walkable neighborhood in Irvine, UTC has about fifty-four restaurants, bars and coffee shops, all of which can be reached within a five-minute walk. Most daily errands can be accomplished by bicycle or on foot. Six public schools in the Irvine Unified School District serve the UTC community. Some of the schools are among the most highly rated in California.
Plenty of Restaurants
Proximity to Major Freeways
Location: University Town Center is located in the southwest region of Irvine. It is bordered on the north by University Drive and on the east by Culver Drive. Camus Drive serves as the western and southern border. Directly north of the community is the Rancho San Joaquin neighborhood. To the northeast is the University Park community. University Research Park lies to the southwest, and directly south is UCI. To the northwest of UTC are John Wayne Airport and the Irvine Business District. The William R. Mason Regional Park occupies the northern portion of the community, and the San Diego Creek runs along UTC’s western border.
Commutes: Commuting within UTC and to outside destinations is fairly convenient. Walking and bicycling are common forms of commuting within the neighborhood, and about six bus lines pass through UTC. Several major freeways run near the community. Nearby major freeways, combined with major surface streets, provide quick commutes to popular area destinations. For example, it takes three minutes via Berkeley Avenue to reach the UCI campus. Commuting to Irvine Spectrum Center takes about 15 minutes via University Drive and I-405 S. John Wayne Airport is 13 minutes away via I-405 N, and South Coast Metro can be reached in around 12 minutes by taking California Highway 73 northward.
Culture: Because University Town Center is essentially an extension of the campus of UCI, the community has an urban feel and is populated with younger people, mostly within the eighteen to forty-five age group. The largest ethnic group in UTC is Asian. The abundance of apartment buildings and presence of campus services in UTC reflects the influence of university culture on the community. Most people living in University Town Center are renters. There are many restaurants and services available to accommodate students and university staff. Residents regularly engage in entertainment and recreational activities in community, regional or state parks and entertainment venues like Irvine Barclay Theatre.
Overview: There are six public schools and one private school serving University Town Center. The public schools are all in the Irvine Unified School District. The two elementary schools are Turtle Rock Elementary School and University Park Elementary School. Turtle Rock Elementary is one of the highest performing schools in California. University Park Elementary School is also a highly rated school. Rancho San Joaquin Middle School is considered one of the best middle schools in California. University High School is a top-rated school, and Creekside High School is an above average alternative school. Both high schools promote high academic achievement and a diverse school culture. Alternative Education-San Joaquin High School is an alternative public school that accepts Kindergarten through 12th grade students. This school is a highly rated school that serves 76 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade and ranks at 373 of 2,534 best public elementary schools in California.
Turtle Rock Elementary School
Turtle Rock Elementary School is a top-rated school that has 883 Kindergarten through 6th grade students. There is one teacher for every 29 students. Based on state test scores, 86% of students are proficient in both mathematics and reading. Turtle Rock Elementary is ranked at 27 of 5,881 best public elementary schools in California.
University Park Elementary School
University Park Elementary School is a highly rated school that serves 541 Kindergarten through 6th grade students. There are 28 students for each teacher. Sixty-five percent of students are proficient in math, and 64% are proficient in reading. University Park Elementary ranks at 135 of 5,881 best public elementary schools in California.
Rancho San Joaquin Middle School
Ranking at 13 of 2,534 best public middle schools in California, Rancho San Joaquin Middle School serves 863 7th and 8th grade students. The student to teacher ratio is 28 to one. Based on state test scores, 83% of students are proficient in both math and reading.
University High School
University High School is a top-rated school with 2,617 students in 9th through 12th grades. The student to teacher ratio is 27 to one. Seventy-three percent of students are proficient in math. Seventy-eight percent are proficient in reading. University High ranks at eight of 1,334 best public college preparatory high schools in California.
Creekside High School
Creekside High School is an above average alternative school serving 92 students in grades 9th through 12th. There is one teacher for every nine students. Only ten percent of Creekside students are proficient in math. Twenty-five percent are proficient in reading. Creekside High School is ranked at 793 out of 1,774 best public high schools in California.
Village Montessori School of Irvine
Village Montessori School of Irvine has 115 students in Pre-Kindergarten through 3rd grade. The student to teacher ratio is 23 to one. This school served as a prototype for a Montessori school on the campus of the University of California, Irvine.
Overview: The types of housing in University Town Center include a handful of condo and attached housing options. A large portion of the housing available in UTC is apartment units.
Homes in UTC represent a wide range of time periods and styles. Most residential structures sit on average sized lots. A typical housing unit in the neighborhood has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Garages and carports are the most common parking options. Because a large percentage of UTC residents are renters, there’s an abundance of apartment buildings in the neighborhood. In roughly thirteen apartment complexes, there are often at least fifty units available for rent at any given time. One housing option in UTC is provided by Rexidence Residential Services, which offers fully furnished short-term units. Kapi Residences Student Housing is also located in University Town Center. Quite often, individual rooms are available for housing in rented or owner-occupied homes.
Single Family Homes
Single family housing in University Town Center consists entirely of attached condominiums and townhouses. There are no detached houses of any style. The reason for this is that University Town Center is populated largely by renters who are associated with UCI.
There are about thirteen apartment buildings in University Town Center. As of February 2019, there were at least 54 apartment units for rent in the neighborhood. A few apartment complexes in UTC are Berkeley Court Apartments, Harvard Court Apartments and Ambrose Apartment Homes.
If you’re interested in buying a home in this area, check out currently available University Town Center homes for sale. You can also browse through the entire database of all the available Irvine homes for sale.
Overview: Real estate in University Town Center includes attached condominiums and townhomes. As of mid-February 2019, there were two homes for sale in UTC. Both homes were condominiums that were listed at $658,888 and $679,888. These homes included, respectively, two bedrooms and 1.75 bathrooms and two bedrooms and three bathrooms. Between January 2016 and January 2019, a total of 143 homes in UTC sold for $2,500 to $910,000. During this period, both the median list price and median sold price rose gradually, each rising by $125,000 to $150,000. The median list price increased slightly more during this time period than the median sold price. The only time periods during which the median sold price exceeded the median list price, however, were from November 2017 to January 2018 and from March 2018 to April 2018. At other times during this three-year period, the median sold price stayed below the median list price.
Things to Do
Overview: University Town Center is a vibrant, energetic community that has an urban feel and a sense of campus culture. The neighborhood offers a wide range of options for entertainment, dining, recreation, shopping and services. Two main retail and dining centers in the community are University Center and Campus Plaza. University Center features beautiful outdoor dining areas and a wide array of eateries. Campus Plaza also contains several excellent dining spots, as well as a grocery store, retailers and services. Gina’s Pizza is a favorite place locals go to enjoy authentic Italian food, and Anthill Pub is a popular place where residents go to enjoy craft ales, sandwiches and stand up comedy. Residents and visitors can catch an outstanding performance at Irvine Barclay Theatre or enjoy a 400-foot-high balloon ride at Great Park. Community parks and bike trails offer breathtaking views of Irvine’s landscape, and nearby Crystal Cove State Park provides a beautiful beach and large wilderness area.
Retail & Entertainment
University Center is a shopping center on the west side of University Town Center. The center features beautifully landscaped courtyard dining areas, retail stores, dining and services. Restaurants include Eureka!, Gen Grill and DelSushi. Retailers include Nectar Clothing, Trader Joe’s and Target. Services found at the center include cellular, financial and dental services.
Campus Plaza is a shopping center in the southeastern region of University Town Center. It contains an Albertsons grocery store, banking and mail services and a styling salon. Some of the eateries found at Campus Plaza are Taquiero Taco Patio, Hen House Mediterranean Grill and The Habit Burger Grill. There are also several coffee shops and a Taiwanese tea café.
This family-owned restaurant at 4533 Campus Drive was founded in the 1970s and is one of the favorite eateries in University Town Center. Sandwiches served at Gina’s include Calabrese Chicken Parmesan, Grilled Pesto Chicken and Roasted Veggie. Entrees include Baked Spinach Ziti, Caprese Gnocchi and Five Cheese Lasagna.
William R. Mason Regional Park
William R. Mason Regional Park spans roughly 100 acres in the northern region of University Town Center. The east side of the park is mostly scrub-covered wilderness, and the west side is a more typical grassy park area with a small lake. The numerous trails in the park are used by residents and runners from UCI and University High School.
The popular Anthill Pub is just outside the UTC neighborhood on UCI campus a few blocks past University Drive on Campus Drive. Anthill Pub serves dishes like the Vegan Artisan Burger, Anthill Grilled Cheese and Mad Mike’s Grilled Bratwurst. The pub serves a wide variety of ales and beers. A weekly comedy night is a main feature.
Irvine Barclay Theatre
Located across from University Center on Campus Drive, Irvine Barclay Theatre is a 750-seat “jewel box” theatre renowned for superb acoustics and an intimate atmosphere. The theatre features wide-ranging programming in the fields of contemporary dance, music and theatre arts. The theatre is available to rent for public and private events.
Mountains to the Sea Trail & Bikeway
The Mountains to the Sea Trail & Bikeway is a 22-mile National Recreation Trail that runs along the west side of UTC. Docent-led bike rides or hikes begin at Weir Canyon to the north and wind up at Big Canyon south of Irvine. The trail was created through cooperative municipal planning to allow visitors to experience the region’s diverse landscape.
Great Park Balloon & Carousel at Orange County Great Park
Great Park is a short drive away from UTC via University Drive, I-405 and Highway 133. The iconic Great Park Balloon holds 25 – 30 passengers as it soars 400 feet above the landscape. The balloon ride offers a panoramic view that can span 40 miles on clear days. The carousel, decorated with vintage-inspired scenes, is a favorite for all ages.
Shady Canyon Golf Club
Shady Canyon Golf Club is located south of UTC in Turtle Rock. It can be reached by taking Culver Drive south to Shady Canyon Drive. The golf course is set on 300 contoured acres and has five different sets of tees. It was named one of the top 200 courses in the country by Golf Digest.
Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is about 20-minutes to the south of University Town Center via Culver Drive and Newport Coast Drive. The park features 3.2 miles of beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness and an offshore underwater area. It also contains an enclave of forty-six vintage rustic coastal cottages built as a seaside colony in the 1930s and 1940s.