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Emile Haddad

by Steve ChurmPublished: November 01, 2012

President and CEO
FivePoint Communities, Aliso Viejo
Hot Factor: Pledged $2 billion to finish the 
Orange County Great Park and build 10,000 homes around it

Emile Haddad is an explorer at heart. He is happiest when he is peering at the horizon like Christopher Columbus, or even Neil Armstrong speeding toward the moon. A contrarian and an entrepreneur, Haddad has shaken the staid homebuilding industry more than once with his ambitious plans.

Now, he has stirred interest again by offering a plan to help complete a large swath of the Orange County Great Park, now stalled by state laws abolishing redevelopment agencies and with them key tax dollars for local projects. Already committed to the tune of $1.4 billion to construct nearly 5,000 homes, roads and schools around the Great Park, Haddad’s firm, FivePoint Communities, and his investors have offered another $641 million to erect sports and cultural facilities and open-space corridors.

When other developers might have walked away from a project of this scale, Haddad is all in because he believes in Orange County.

“I have traveled the world. Nothing compares to this place. It is special, and this opportunity is too important for this county to miss the moment,” Haddad says.

Born in Lebanon, Haddad is tough and understands risk. He welcomes challenges. Currently, he is on the board of the UC Irvine Foundation and chairs its strategic planning committee, helping chart the university’s future.

“You can sit on the sidelines or you can get in the game and shape what’s coming,” he says. “I don’t sit well. I like to be part of change.”

Haddad would probably fit in nicely with Columbus or Armstrong at the dinner table.

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