Shurl Curci has a simple formula about where to put an office or mixed-use project: Locate it no more than 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
With one major exception--the $170-million, 33-story Transpacific Center under construction in downtown Los Angeles--Curci's Transpacific Development Co. has adhered to this formula.
"Let's face it: The decision about where to locate the office is made by the boss, and he or she usually wants it no more than 10 or 15 minutes from home," Curci said in in interview in his Torrance headquarters.
A resident of Rolling Hills, the 58-year-old developer himself lives only a short drive from his office in the Park Del Amo Business Center, a Transpacific project in the Park Del Amo mixed-use development.
Why the exception for downtown L.A.?
"It's the financial center for the entire Southern California area--a position that is growing despite the mushrooming of regional office centers," he explained.
About 225,000 square feet of the 660,000-square-foot project at 1055 West 7th St. have been leased to Arco Petroleum Products Co., a division of Arco. John Cushman III of Cushman Realty and Joe Faulkner of Faulkner Associates acted as co-brokers for the $98-million lease.
Designed by Gin Wong & Associates, the steel-frame building will be clad with a granite exterior and contrasting solar bronze windows. Completion is scheduled for the end of 1988.
"We decided to go with granite because it makes the statement that the building is the top of the line," Curci said. "We feel that this stretch of 7th Street just west of the Harbor Freeway is a continuation of the prime downtown office area, with the added advantage for us of five times as much parking as offices east of the freeway can offer. There is also less traffic congestion on our side of the freeway."
Seen as a Maverick
Curci, who acquired Transpacific in 1973 after a career that included serving as principal in the development firm of Barclay, Hollander & Curci, is widely viewed as a developer who operates in his own way--a maverick.
"Our typical approach is to find an opportunity, put our own money down and add a joint-venture partner later," he said. "Most other developers find a joint-venture partner first--a partner that may end up calling the shots. I don't like that approach one bit! I want to call the shots."
Polished granite is the approach Curci used at the South Coast Metro Center in Costa Mesa. The six 12-story office towers projected for the $190-million, 85-acre development are from the drawing boards of Gin Wong & Associates and will be clad in granite and gray-tinted glass.
Two buildings were completed in 1985, and the third is scheduled to be occupied by Security Pacific Corp.'s Orange County regional headquarters by the end of 1988.
"We were the first to use polished granite in the South Coast area and now everybody is using it," Curci said.
He likes the "forgiving" nature of office building development in the booming Southland market: "If you have the right location, it doesn't matter if the market is overbuilt or not. The building will lease up quickly. I know of no other market as forgiving as Southern California."
He has no plans to develop housing, a product he is familiar with from his days with Barclay, Hollander & Curci. "You have to sell housing, and our goal is to be like Japanese buyers of American real estate: Buy for the long term and hold onto the product to benefit from its appreciation," he added.
Peter H. Adams, executive vice president of Transpacific Development, said that the firm's way of doing business is riskier than fee or merchant development firms that don't have an ownership interest in their projects--but is also more profitable. The firm has 13 million square feet of property valued at $1 billion under construction, he estimated.
"We don't have an ongoing financial partner; we structure each deal separately," he added. "In the Park Del Amo project in Torrance, Santa Fe is the landowner; in Cerritos, where we're developing the $225-million, 125-acre Cerritos Town Center, the City of Cerritos will receive ground rents and room and sales taxes on the 99-year land lease. When the lease expires, the city gets all the land and buildings."
The Cerritos project, in the city's "Golden Triangle" formed by Bloomfield Avenue, 183rd Street and the Artesia (91) Freeway, will provide the community with a downtown. Adams said that the project, which will take five to seven years to complete, is expected to commence later this year with a seven-story office building and an eight-story hotel, scheduled for completion in mid-1988 and early 1989, respectively.
In addition to those Southland projects, Transpacific is the developer of the 100-acre Metro Center in Foster City, Calif., a San Mateo County suburb of San Francisco; Lake Merritt Plaza, an $85-million, 27-story office building that opened in October, 1985, in Oakland; 2600 Michelson, a $70-million, 16-story office building in Irvine, and Pacific Park Plaza, a $42-million, two-building office structure in Honolulu's Kaka'ako urban renewal project.