“Ziggurat” building in Laguna Niguel heads to auction for second try

This time federal agency will allow redevelopment or teardown to attract bidders

“Ziggurat” Building in Laguna Niguel Heads to Auction Again
A photo illustration of GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan and 24000 Avila Road (Getty, GSA, Carol M. Highsmith - Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. federal government is relisting the “Ziggurat” office building in Laguna Niguel, after a failed auction in June. And this time, it’s allowing potential buyers to knock down the property and redevelop it. 

The General Services Administration is marketing for sale the 89-acre site at 24000 Avila Road, which houses the seven-story, 1 million-square-foot Chet Holifield Federal Building, according to the Orange County Register

The federal agency had tried to sell the building at auction in April, with a starting price of $70 million. However, no bidders participated in the auction.

The building is called the Ziggurat for its resemblance to an ancient Mesopotamian stepped pyramid. Technically, the design falls in the Brutalistic style of architecture, and at one point the government determined the 52-year-old structure by William Pereira had historic importance.

During the April auction, potential buyers had a problem with the federal agency’s requirement  that any new owner preserve the structure of the office property, the Register reported, citing Chelsey Battaglia, a GSA senior realty specialist.

This time around, there will be no mandate to keep the structure as is, in an effort to attract more potential buyers that could rework the space into a different use. 

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Bids on the property will be due in June — the starting bid will be the same as the first auction.

A number of developers in Southern California have bought up suburban office properties to demolish them and build industrial space on the land. Many have looked to convert office properties into residential, though experts say it’s much easier to do a ground-up residential development than converting an existing building. 

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About 60 percent of the Ziggurat office building is leased. 

If a buyer chooses to demolish the structure, it could face up to $3 million in fees, according to the report. Those funds will go towards preserving other local historical buildings. 

Keeping it as is would be costly, too. The GSA has suggested any owner would need to spend more than $340 million to renovate the building, which was built in 1971.