February 3, 2023
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Hummingbird Ranch project in Simi falls out of the nest


Elijah Brumback

Elijah Brumback

A project that was once heralded as a catalyst for Simi Valley’s tourism and hospitality game is looking like it won’t actually happen.

The Hummingbird Nest Ranch, a 126-acre estate and equestrian property, was recently listed for sale at $49.5 million. Brokers at the Beverly Hills office of Sotheby’s International Realty are handling the listing.

“Right now I think the hotel is more a dream than a reality in the short term,” Dean Kunicki, the developer overseeing the project for ranch owner and Texas billionaire David Saperstein, previously told the Business Times. “We can operate and be financially solvent without that going in. But it’d be a great asset, and if the ranch develops the way we hope it does and we’re getting the volume of business coming in, in the end we’ll be more attractive to one of the [hotel] firms.”

Still, the ranch is at the center of Simi Valley’s tourism efforts. Not long ago the city passed a tourism tax district and rezoning approvals for the historic redevelopment. Both moves are part of a larger effort to make Simi Valley more attractive as a drive-to destination for the Los Angeles market, but now all of that could be up in the air.

The entire project consists of commercial and resort style uses that include a new two-story hotel building with 105 units with subterranean parking, 59 single, duplex, and triplex buildings with 98 casitas vacation units, restaurants, swimming pools, a conference center, recreation facilities, spas, a surgical center with 16 rehab rooms and host of other amenities. The existing main villa is slated for redevelopment as a boutique hotel and is part of the project’s first phase, which also includes converting a barn into a convention center that seats up to 1,000 guests.

Saperstein previously listed the property for $75 million, prior to securing the rezoning, but had no takers.

Hummingbird Nest Ranch, a sprawling equestrian estate in Ventura County, was once slated to become Simi Valley's first five-star resort. (Nik Blaskovich / Business Times photo)

Hummingbird Nest Ranch, a sprawling equestrian estate in Ventura County, was once slated to become Simi Valley’s first five-star resort. (Nik Blaskovich / Business Times photo)

A light of affordability

Apartments have become one of the preferred property types by investors looking to build their personal wealth. On the South Coast, inventory is extremely tight and competition fierce when a new offering comes on the market.

However, a small nonprofit recently purchased its second apartment complex in Santa Barbara’s west side in an effort to expand affordable apartment housing in a market that can be incredibly trying for low-income families.

The Turner Foundation, led by husband and wife team Dr. Jon and Patty Wilson and their sons Todd and Dean, has been quietly going about its mission transforming one of Santa Barbara’s toughest neighborhoods by providing safe, quality housing to low-income, undeserved families.

The foundation recently purchased the 45-unit San Pascual Apartments located at 1502 San Pascual St. and plan to turn the property into The Lighthouse, an affordable housing complex.

Low-income housing is not a new concept in Santa Barbara. But according to Patty Wilson, Turner Foundation founder and director, a safe neighborhood and family environment is vital. Affordable housing is part of providing “a place to thrive, not just survive,” she said in a release.

The complex will be transformed with improvements to the living spaces and eventually new playground with an on-site community center.

Free services will be offered to resident families and children including music and dance classes, professional counseling and after-school tutoring programs.

Some Section 8 designations will also be available. The property is in the same west-side neighborhood as the Turner Foundation’s first affordable development on the South Coast called The Village at Santa Barbara.

The Lighthouse will expand on the work the started in 2005 when the foundation purchased the former 70-unit Casa Perdido Apartments.

The foundation has partnered with Montecito Bank & Trust and the Towbes Group on the deal.