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San Diego
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

After Seven Years, Carlsbad Community Opens Gates

Bressi Ranch, a 585-acre master-planned community in Carlsbad, opened Feb. 12, as custom lots became available for sale. It is being planned and developed by a division of Miami-based Lennar and has been in the works for more than seven years.

Upon completion (in roughly three to five years), the master-planned community at Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real will include 623 homes in eight neighborhoods, each displaying a variety of architectural styles.

The largest homes will be semi-custom estates of up to 6,280 square feet and the smallest will be about 2,600 square feet. The community will also feature a section of condominium-style attached homes for low-income residents.

Carlsbad-based Barratt American Inc. will also build 25 estates from 4.9 to 6.2 million square feet called Magnolia Estates in Bressi Ranch.

More than 60 years ago, Bressi Ranch was a working ranch owned by the Bressi family. Lennar bought the land from the family in 1997 for an undisclosed amount.

In the hopes of making this a true live, work and play community, Bressi Ranch will offer a corporate center of approximately 2 million square feet of office space and a proposed 100,000-square-foot retail center, within walking distance from the residential portion of the community.

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Urban Architecture:

A forthcoming residential community in the East Village area of Downtown San Diego is expected to add an element of style to this quickly evolving neighborhood.

Centex Homes’ Element Community on the corner of Market and 15th streets will, as the name implies, consist of a fusion of building elements, including glass, stucco, plaster, aluminum and exposed concrete.

The first of Element’s 65 units came off the market in September, two months before the project even broke ground. As of early February, the development was just under half sold out, according to James Bonggat, a sales consultant for Dallas-based Centex. The project is expected to be completed by March 2006.

“Element’s design has a very urban essence the architecture is a 21st century inspiration and really makes the building stand out in a sea of Downtown projects,” said Bob Linder, the project manager at Centex.

In addition to the residential units, Element will have what the project manager calls shopkeeper spaces, which offer street-front retail spaces with a private residence in the rear. It will also have an open-air courtyard with a “Zen-like” landscaped area.

“It just has a different, funkier, eclectic kind of feel,” Bonggat said.

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High Prices:

A housing study to be released in mid-February by economists at National City Corp., a Cleveland banking company, showed that home prices in San Diego are 28 percent higher than the expected level, based on such factors as population density, income and historical price norms for each market, as reported by the

Wall Street Journal.

In the study, Chico, a small city in the almond-growing area of Butte County, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, is pegged as the most overvalued housing market in the country (out of 99 metropolitan areas), with house prices 43 percent above the expected price level.

Eight of the top 10 most overvalued cities are in California, according to the report. San Diego ranked No. 7.

Richard DeKaser, the chief economist at National City Corp. and author of the study, said that while his findings do not support the hypothesis that a nationwide housing bubble exists, he recognizes that some cities may be in the midst of a housing “bubblette” and there is greater risk in these areas for corrections.

San Diego, according to DeKaser, exemplifies such a bubblette.

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Slow Growth:

San Diego County’s population grew by a mere 1.4 percent between July 2003 and July 2004, and saw a net out-migration for the first time in eight years, according to a report released Feb. 7 by the state Department of Finance, which included official population estimates.

In 2003, the population count stood at 2,994,454 people and, in 2004, the count increased slightly to 3,036,373 people.

In the previous three years, the percentage increase from year to year was higher, averaging more than 1.8 percent.

Despite the marked change in the pattern of migration in the county, San Diego had an overall increase in population of 41,919 new residents last year, which the report said is mostly a result of births outpacing deaths.

The net out-migration, or people who physically left the county, was equivalent to only 613 people , the report said that 15,470 people moved into the county, while 16,083 moved out. This stands in sharp contrast to the more than 4,000 people who had migrated into San Diego the previous year.

Nearby Riverside County, which grew at a rate of 4.5 percent last year from 1,767,485 to 1,846,095, was the fastest growing of the state’s 58 counties.

One possible explanation for the shift in demographics and for the steady and consistent decline in San Diego’s population is the high cost of housing throughout this county.

In December, the average price of an existing single-family home was more than $577,000, a jump of $111,000 from December 2003, according to the California Association of Realtors.

In related news, a recent report on Land Use and Land Ownership from the San Diego Association of Governments provides evidence to validate a now widely accepted fact: The region’s housing market has been unable to meet the demands of a growing population here.

In terms of land-use patterns, of the 2.7 million acres of land in the county, 66 percent is developed or in use. Much of the remaining vacant or unused land is unavailable for development due to environmental or policy restrictions, according to the report.

One problem is that only about 255,000 acres, or 9 percent of the total land in the county, is used for residential development right now, and only 35,000 acres, or less than 2 percent of the region, is developed for commercial, office and industrial uses, according to the report.

Send residential and commercial real estate news to Heather Bergman via e-mail at or via fax at (858) 571-3628. Call her at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 3114.


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