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Ventura County developers pull back amid high vacancy

By   /   Friday, October 4th, 2013  /   Comments Off on Ventura County developers pull back amid high vacancy

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MvR-CRE

The ’70s are back. At least when it comes to the state of commercial real estate development in Ventura County.

While new home building in Ventura County is up compared to last year, commercial development is at a 37-year low, according to the latest report from the California Economic Forecast.

Total investment in Ventura County commercial development fell to about $108 million for calendar year 2012, according to the numbers compiled by the Santa Barbara-based forecasting group. That’s the lowest level since 1976.

And for the first seven months of this year, total investment in commercial buildings is down 49 percent year-over year, putting total investment on track to close at $68 million in 2013. Spending on renovation of commercial properties is down too, totaling $69 million in 2012 and $44 million through July of this year.

The development malaise can be pinned on high commercial vacancy rates, especially in office space, the forecast said. With landlords struggling just to fill the space that’s already out there, there’s little incentive to build more.

But that does mean some property owners are spending money on modernizing their buildings in an effort to attract tenants. The forecast calls for alterations and additions to existing properties to be the predominant source of commercial building activity in Ventura County for the foreseeable future.

Some cities, including Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark, are seeing more ground-up commercial development than the rest. That includes projects such as the mixed-use RiverPark development in Oxnard and the Conejo Ridge Executive Center business park in Thousand Oaks.

The California Economic Forecast, led by Santa Barbara economist Mark Schniepp, expects non-residential development to increase in coming years, but to lag behind much-needed new housing.

“There will be some growth in 2014 and 2015, but total investment remains near historically low levels,” Schniepp said in a written forecast. “Over the next five years, building values will remain below the levels that prevailed in the 2000s.”

Alma Del Pueblo update

Alma Del Pueblo, the food market and condominium project in downtown Santa Barbara, is now shooting for a year-end completion date.

Santa Barbara-based developer Urban Developments said recently that four of the 37 multimillion-dollar condos are in escrow. The units range in price from $840,000 to $2.6 million. The public food market and restaurant portion of the project is also nearing completion, with a dozen artisan food retailer signed up for leases.

UCSB builds out library

UC Santa Barbara has set out on a massive expansion and renovation of the campus library. The project is the library’s first renovation in 35 years and the university’s first expansion in that time, according to the school.

Highlights of the project, to be completed at the end of 2015, include the  addition of about 60,000 square feet of new space plus renovation of 92,000 square feet, a new arts area with exhibition space and a new special collection facility.

Financing was received through a $76 million revenue state bond initiative. Fundraising from private individuals and foundations is underway to fund new technology, collections, endowment support and digitization beyond the scope of the building, UCSB said.

The architect is Pfeiffer Partners Architects out of Los Angeles and the construction manager is Pasadena-based C.W. Driver.

DEALS OF THE WEEK

Student apartment complexes keep drawing investors. Here’s a look at two recent deals in the region:

• The three-unit apartment complex at 6587 Del Playa Drive recently sold for $1.25 million, representing a gross rent multiplier of 12. The property is located along the ocean bluffs in Isla Vista, UC Santa Barbara’s student community. Craig Lieberman of The Apartment Investment Specialists represented the seller, Stella M. Case Admin Trust, while Michael Andrade, an agent with Coastal Properties, represented the buyer, Andrade Investments LLC.

• Santa Barbara-based Enduravest Partners recently added the first student housing property to its portfilio. The company recently closed on an eight-unit apartment building at 428 N. Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo. It was an off-market sale, the company noted. The firm, which started in 2008 to take advantage of the distressed investment market, said it now owns almost 70 units of apartments on the Central Coast.

• Contact Marlize van Romburgh at [email protected]

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About the author

Managing Editor

Marlize van Romburgh covers banking, finance, agricultural and viticulture. She writes a weekly column on commercial real estate and a monthly column on the restaurant industry. Follow her at @marlizevr

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