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'Orange County Look' Makes a Hit Elsewhere

Second in a series on land planning and housing marketing concepts.

January 29, 1989|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

When a homeowner in the city of Westlake Village wants to move up to a more luxurious house, he or she doesn't have to leave the community.

Thanks to a number of builders who are constructing houses in KLK's Three Springs project near Triumfo Canyon and Lindero Canyon roads, they can stay in their nationally acclaimed planned community.

So far, houses have been produced in Three Springs by these developers: A-M Homes, Santa Barbara, 43 houses priced from $465,000 to $645,000; California Community Collection, 190 houses priced from $415,000 to $550,000; Warmington Homes, 118 houses priced from $408,000 to $493,000, and Stockton-based Grupe's Southern California division, 73 houses priced from $475,000 to $555,000.

Griffin Homes, Calabasas, has purchased 54 lots and will build 4- and 5-bedroom houses with 3,400 to 4,200 square feet of living area, according to Toni Solano, Griffin's western region marketing director. Designed by Carde-Killefer-Flammang, Santa Monica, the houses will feature contemporary Mediterranean designs very much like the other houses in Three Springs, Solano said.

"We waited until the other builders had completed their houses so we could see what a buyer in Three Springs wanted--a kind of comparison surveying of the market to design the house move-up buyers really wanted," she added. Sales will begin in March, and the first houses will be occupied in July or August, she said.

Conejo Valley move-up buyers typically earn well over $100,000 a year, but they are beneficiaries of equity that has ballooned over the years, permitting them to afford the prices charged in Three Springs, according to Tom Hover, president of A-M's Newport Beach-based Southern California region.

The buyer profile in A-M's Hillsboro at Westlake Village development is strictly up-market, with a median household income of $140,000, a down payment of $100,000 and a median head-of-household age of 48, he said. Buyers are from Westlake Village as well as Glendale, Ventura, Studio City, Woodland Hills and even Pacific Palisades.

Orange County Builders

Hover, formerly vice president/marketing for J.M. Peters Co., believes one of the attractions of the 43-home Hillsboro development is the "sophisticated Orange County design" of the houses.

"In addition to our four developments in Calabasas, Westlake (two projects) and Thousand Oaks, other Orange County-based builders active in the San Fernando Valley-Conejo Valley move-up market include the Lusk Co., J.M. Peters and Warmington," Hover said.

Orange County-based firms--like other California builders--seek opportunities wherever they are, so their presence more than 50 miles north of their home base is not unusual, he added.

"We bring our special 'Orange County look' to a market that has shown great interest in these sophisticated designs but has been unable to get them until recently," Hover said on a tour of Hillsboro.

"The basic components of the 'Orange County look' include such features as point of entry impact, with dramatic foyers and staircase treatments, recessed windows and doors, massive master suites and baths. Coupled with our high-quality construction, we've found that these features make our product a success with move-up buyers."

Orange County architects, such as Hillsboro's McLarand Vasquez & Partners Inc., Costa Mesa; Berkus Group Architects, Irvine; Richardson Nagy Martin, Newport Beach; Danielian Associates, Irvine; Aram Bassenian AIA Architecture & Planning, Santa Ana, and Steward Woodard & Associates AIA, Costa Mesa, are the style leaders for the nation's builders, he said.

Tom Payne of Applied Research Services, an Orange County market research firm for builders throughout the West, confirms Hover's views of Orange County's design lead.

"Architects in Orange County produce designs that are superior to anything anywhere in the country--and buyers are quick to recognize this," Payne said. "Los Angeles-based builders are scrambling to improve their designs in the face of this competition."

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