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Stein-Brief Group No Stranger to Headlines

April 23, 1986|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

The Stein-Brief Group, formed only seven years ago, has rivaled the older, better known land development companies in Orange County and created major news in the process.

Based in Laguna Niguel, the partnership of David Stein and Barry Brief burst into statewide prominence in September, 1983, when the company purchased, for $80 million, 550 acres of prime coastal property south of Laguna Beach.

The property lies roughly west of Niguel and Stonehill roads, east of Crown Valley Parkway and south of Salt Creek Drive. Its purchase price was believed to be the third largest land transaction in Orange County history--exceeded only by two sales of land by the Irvine Co. in 1977 and April, 1983.

The land purchased by the Stein-Brief Group was one of the last remaining parcels of open oceanfront property between Los Angeles and San Diego. It was formerly held by Avco Community Developers, a subsidiary of the Greenwich, Conn.-based conglomerate, Avco Corp.

After purchasing the Avco land, Stein estimated that the coastal development his partnership planned to build would be worth $1 billion and generate $165 million in profits.

The partnership declared that its project would soon have "a status on a par with Pebble Beach, Palm Springs and the state's other notable residential-resort areas."

Plans called for sale of 3,400 homes in a guarded-gate community that would include two luxury hotels, an 18-hole championship golf course, a conference center, resort spa and shopping plaza.

Stein said that the firm had to overcome significant financial hurdles to finally purchase the land in 1983.

"Barry and I had $2 million of our money invested in this, almost everything," said Stein on Sept. 23, 1984. "If this hadn't closed soon, we would have had 'For Sale' signs out in front of our houses."

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