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The Real Deal Los Angeles

SoCal status update

Developers are hustling to add to housing supply in the regions surrounding LA County, as commercial leasing remains healthy
By Kavita Daswani | July 26, 2018 08:00AM

Estancia, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

The county that was among the worst-ravaged in a string of forest fires and mudslides in the past year is continuing to rebuild.

Mid-July saw the grand opening of Estancia, the first development in Santa Barbara in some three decades to offer single-level residences, according to John Schuck, president of the project’s builder, Franciscan Developments. The 72 homes on offer — both townhouses and single-family — are priced from $965,000 to $1.13 million. The 5-acre development sits on the site of a former motel, said Schuck.

“We’ve sold 19 homes so far,” the developer said, adding that 12 of those have already closed escrow, and of those, 10 were all-cash transactions. Buyers to date were from Hawaii, Connecticut and Arizona, among other places. One buyer came from neighboring Montecito and had lost his house in the January flood. 

Schuck said that enthusiasm for Estancia has not been dampened by the spate of natural disasters that have affected the area this year. “The people of Santa Barbara are an optimistic group,” he said. “There is no lingering stigma attached. To them, today is a new day.”

Estancia adds to the gradual revitalization of parts of the scenic,  wealthy enclave that gives the county its name. In late spring, Santa Barbara was host to a grand-reopening bash for the Hotel Californian — a landmark event for this traditionally quiet town. The original façade of the 1925 hotel has been retained, but the rest of the building was gutted and rebuilt by Los Angeles developer Michael Rosenfeld. Room rates at the 121-room hotel, designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, are in excess of $500 a night. The hotel is said to be an integral part of the gentrification of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, a district that is home to new microbreweries, art galleries and farm-to-table restaurants.

Orange County

Summit Office Campus, Aliso Viejo

Business has been buzzing in Orange County, which in June saw the largest local commercial transaction of the year.

Real estate private equity firm Rockpoint Group purchased the Summit Office Campus — a five-building, 479,451-square-foot project in Aliso Viejo — in a deal worth approximately $150 million, according to the Orange County Register. The seller was unknown.

And in another headline-making deal, in early July Marcus & Millichap brokered the sale of four multifamily properties, together valued at $67.7 million, located in Anaheim and Oceanside. The names of the buyer and seller were not disclosed.  

Over on the retail front, Louis Vuitton opened its newly expanded store at Costa Mesa shopping mall South Coast Plaza in July; at 8,000 square feet, the store is one of the largest in the brand’s U.S. portfolio. John Hardy, AllSaints, Furla, Lafayette 148 and Eve by Eve’s will also open in South Coast Plaza this year.

In the residential sector, homeowners looking to sell their Orange County properties, especially in the ritzier coastal communities such as Corona del Mar and Newport, are finding that even in a hot market, they have to be more realistic about pricing, brokers said.

“Even though there’s a lot of demand, buyers are not overpaying,” said Andy Stavros, broker at Douglas Elliman in Orange County. “Those who are following the prior trajectory of high prices, those homes are going through price reductions to meet the expectations of the buyer.”

Countywide, home prices were up in May 2018 over the same time the previous year; the median price for a home, including single-family and multifamily product, was $830,000, up over 5 percent from May 2017.

McKenna Park, Chino

Inland Empire

With a 6.8 percent increase in the median residential sales price year over year in the Inland Empire, the market is “strong but tightening,” said Mark Dowling, chief executive officer of the Inland Valleys Association of Realtors. In June, the three local communities with the highest number of sales were Riverside, Temecula and Murrieta.

New master-planned communities across the region are expected to accommodate ongoing job growth; some 45,000 new jobs aare anticipated by the end of the year, according to an April 2018 report from the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. “Unemployment is forecasted to drop to 4.7 percent in 2018, down from 5.1 percent in 2017,” said John Husing, who authored the report.

One of the newly completed planned communities comes from Richmond American Homes, whose 94-home McKenna Park development in Chino is almost sold out; in late June, there remained just three houses left unsold, priced at between $599,000 and $769,000, the developer’s spokesperson said.

Slated to be move-in ready by this fall are homes in the 400-house Centennial community from Pardee Homes, in the Riverside County city of Menifee. The houses are priced at $400,000 and up. Not all master-planned communities are proceeding smoothly, however. In July, a Superior Court judge ruled against Harmony, a proposed 3,600-house project in the San Bernardino County city of Highland from developer Lewis Group of Companies. Two lawsuits had been filed by environmental and community groups opposed to the project.

Ventura County

Portside Ventura Harbor, Ventura

The first 56 units in the highly anticipated Portside Ventura Harbor, from developer Michael Sondermann, are expected to begin leasing this fall, according to a spokesperson for the Ventura County development. The units range from studio apartments to three-bedroom townhouses and are estimated to go for $1,900 to $4,500 a month. By the time the 27-acre coastal community is completed in late 2019, it will encompass 270 apartments, a marina for 104 boats and 21,000 square feet of retail and community space.

Meanwhile, in Thousand Oaks, the second-largest city in Ventura County, the first tenant moved into the sprawling, 500,000-square-foot Conejo Spectrum Business Park in late June. Biopharmaceutical firm Atara Biotherapeutics started its 15-year lease of a 90,000-square-foot building on the campus, owned by the Irvine-based Sares-Regis Group. 

In the city of Moorpark, plans are underway for redevelopment along the city’s historic High Street, according to the Ventura County Star. The Moorpark City Council approved a proposal to split a 100,000-plus-square-foot site into four parcels. The site, to be developed by Daly Group, will hold 40 to 80 residential units, pending approval. Daly Group is also developing Citrus II, a 78-unit multifamily building in the unincorporated Ventura County community of Saticoy, slated for completion early next year.