Brandywine Homes Rescues Stalled Redevelopment Plan in Garden Grove, Calif.

Garden Grove, Calif.--Where others have tried and failed, Brandywine Homes is succeeding.

Garden Grove, Calif.–Where others have tried and failed, Brandywine Homes is succeeding. For years, officials of the City of Garden Grove in Southern California’s Orange County have wanted to redevelop a 6.4-acre parcel in the middle of the town’s civic center, and after several false starts by a handful of developers, Brandywine Homes will fulfill the long-held hopes, having broken ground on the Century Village multifamily project.

The 53-unit Century Village will occupy nearly three acres of the aforementioned 6.4-acre lot, known as Century Triangle. Located across from the city’s historic Main Street, the townhome project is an urban infill endeavor conceived to bolster the city’s housing market with the addition of reasonably priced for-sale dwellings. Local officials had tapped developer after developer to bring life to the site, but the various planned projects fell victim to the suddenly inhospitable credit markets, the collapse of the jobs market and the onset of the economic crisis. The last proposal that had been on the table was Urban Pacific Builders L.L.C.’s $300 million Brookhurst Triangle, which would have resulted in approximately 800 residential units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

But Brandywine Homes’ plan stuck. The company began negotiating an agreement with the City for the redevelopment of Century Triangle in 2008, and this year, Century Village Group L.L.C., a financial entity led by Brandywine Homes, sealed the deal with the signing of a Disposition and Redevelopment Agreement. The agreement allowed the homebuilder to seek approval for the rezoning of the land to accommodate Century Village. “We’ve worked with a lot of city governments and working with the City of Garden Grove has been a breeze,” David Barisic, vice president, Brandywine Homes, tells MHN. “We worked very hard to put this project together and the City made it much less difficult than they could have. They are professional and they know what they’re doing. They were very easy to work with.”

Designed by architectural firm KTGY Group Inc., the multifamily community will offer four different three-story floor plans ranging in size from approximately 1,700 square feet to 2,250 square feet with anticipated sales prices starting in the mid-$400,000 range. Three-car garages will accompany over 20 percent of the residences, and all tenants will be able to avail themselves of private green space.

Nationally, the condominium market, like the rest of the for-sale housing market, has yet to recover, but there are those pockets in various areas where a new condominium development makes sense. “Demand varies, it depends on where you are actually doing the development,” Barisic says. “Our developments are mostly in older areas of Orange County where the supply of new homes is very limited. The area in general is completely built out aside from a strawberry farm here or there. It’s still a buyers’ market, so we will have to work hard to sell, but the demand is there.”

Despite previous visions of mixed-use offerings at Century Triangle, Brandywine Homes decided to stick with strict residential, and for good reason. “As difficult as the market may be for housing, it is not particularly better for retail,” he notes. “It’s difficult to get construction financing for retail because lenders want most of the space to be pre-leased and that is next to impossible right now. It’s a Catch-22; you need financing to build retail, but you need pre-leased retail to get financing. But Century Triangle is pretty much surrounded by retail, so we didn’t think we needed more.”

Regardless, new, financially accessible housing is city officials’ focal point for Century Triangle. “This is a significant milestone for the City of Garden Grove,” Jim DellaLonga, project manager for the city’s economic development department, notes in a prepared statement. “We have very little, if any, raw land for new homes and communities like Century Village will help us lure back people who have left for lack of affordable new housing.” Century Village’s first homes are scheduled to be available for sale by June 2011.

The condominium complex will occupy less than half of the Century Triangle site; however, Brandywine Homes is not making a beeline to the drawing board to create new plans for the remaining space–not right now, at least. “We designed the property in such a way that future phases could be incorporated.”

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