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It’s No Mystery Where Visitors Will Be Able To See Fossil Exhibit

Work on “Fossil Mysteries,” the San Diego Natural History Museum’s first major permanent exhibition, is now under way with Melhorn Construction Co. of San Diego at the helm. The work is expected to be finished by the summer.

No bones about it, this attraction, being billed as “spectacular,” is a joint effort of the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota, which is building the new displays.

The attraction, designed by the museum’s exhibitions staff, will occupy 9,000 square feet of both the original building and the new wing, which opened in April 2001.

In “Fossil Mysteries,” visitors will get to play the role of paleontologist, as they can ponder a mystery, explore a setting, and examine the strong fossil evidence from the museum’s collection using scientific tools to discover the answers.

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Exploring a 75 million-year chronology, from the age of dinosaurs to the ice age, visitors can get a feel of the prehistory of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico.

The museum was awarded a $2.8 million grant from the first round of California Cultural and Historical Endowment awards, a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, and has received $2 million in private funding to develop the exhibition.

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East County Jewel:

Cuyamaca College’s $34 million Communication Arts Building is being touted as an East County landmark of architectural importance, and a “jewel” for the area, according to Wendell Cutting, the president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board.

The 88,000-square-foot building, which will be visible from the college’s main entrance at Fury Lane in Rancho San Diego, will include a 360-seat assembly hall and a 100-seat digital theater, among other features.

Designed by NTD/Stichler Architect, the three-story facility , the college’s largest, we’re told , will be built into a hill and will link the lower and upper portions of the campus, improving access, especially for people with disabilities, according to the college.

Funded by a combination of local and state bond funds, the building is expected to be completed in 18 months.

Some history: Funds from Proposition R, a $207 million local bond measure approved in 2002, were earmarked to build and repair facilities at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges. The Communication Arts Building is the largest instructional facility funded by Proposition R.

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Rental Trends:

The demand for rental and converted condo units in San Diego County remains strong, according to a new study by Burnham Real Estate.

“As a result of the force of conversion activity in the past year, there are now more converted condos on the market than ever before,” said Cathryn Low, vice president with Burnham’s Langston & Low multifamily team. “Consequently, first-time buyers have more options to choose from. This increased supply competition is helping to stabilize runaway price escalation.”

Some highlights from the study:

Converted condos, with an average price of $340,000 in the second quarter, make up more than half of all attached housing sold in recent months.

Only about 5 percent of the residents displaced in a condo conversion end up buying a condo in the same complex.

Low fixed interest rates and even lower variable rates have made mortgage payments more affordable, fueling the demand from buyers of converted condo units.

“The demand for condo conversions is expected to last as long as the economy and job market are strong and interest rates remain low,” said Burnham’s Mack Langston.

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Big Deals:

Jack O’Brien, the Old Globe Theatre’s esteemed artistic director, has placed his Mission Hills home on the market for $1.5 million.

According to Ginny Ollis of Coldwell Banker’s Mission Hills office, which is listing the property, O’Brien is building a custom home in Connecticut, so he can be closer to his New York projects. He plans to maintain an apartment in San Diego to continue his work with the Old Globe, she said.

Capstone Advisors, a San Diego-based real estate investment and advisory company, has formed an equity joint venture with Trimark Pacific Homes for the development of Valle di Oro, a 111-unit townhome community in Santa Clarita. When completed in 2007, we’re told, the project will be valued in excess of $56 million and bring Capstone’s residential development portfolio to more than $3.3 billion.

Capstone also has acquired 682 lots and six existing model homes within the partially constructed Rio Vista Village master-planned community in Cathedral City for $33.6 million. The company bought the lots out of bankruptcy. The primary seller of the land was Rio Vista Land Co.

Rancho SP, LLC has sold a 96,114-square-foot portion of Terra Nova Plaza in Chula Vista to VLD Sweetwater, L.P., for $18.1 million.

USA Properties is the managing agent of Rancho SP, LLC; the managing agent of VLD Sweetwater is R & V Management Corp. in San Diego.

Eric Tompkins of CB Richard Ellis represented the buyer in the sale, while the sellers represented themselves.


Send residential and commercial real estate news to pbroderick@sdbj.com or via fax at (858) 571-3628.

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