It's not always as obvious as an empty office building, but the national savings-and-loan crisis is a matter of bricks and beams all over Ventura County. At a house in Simi Valley. In a Ventura condominium complex. And yes, on Main Street in Santa Paula.
In the last year, failing financial institutions have handed over millions of dollars' worth of Ventura County real estate to the newly created federal Resolution Trust Corp.
"Most people think of Arizona and Texas" when the savings-and-loan debacle comes to mind, CB Commercial real estate agent Chuck Engel acknowledged. But Engel's office in Ventura is now handling two RTC properties.
With federal officials aiming to sell an estimated $167 billion in seized thrift properties nationwide, Engel has plenty of company. But for those not looking closely, the savings-and-loan debacle here has been a nearly invisible phenomenon.
At least four locally prominent institutions were seized: County Bank of Santa Barbara, Gibraltar Savings, Imperial Savings and Santa Barbara Savings & Loan. But they kept on doing business under federal conservatorship. No window jumpers, no apples for a nickel.
"By and large, my sense is that the customer doesn't see a change," said Ron McGee, president of Household Bank's western division.
On April 19, Household Bank bought much of Imperial Savings' former holdings from the RTC branches in Southern California. The $14-million sale included Imperial branches in Ventura, Ojai and Port Hueneme.
Elsewhere in the county, a variety of solvent and well-known organizations now find themselves business partners with, or tenants of, the federal government.
California Lutheran University, the U.S. Navy and the Los Angeles Times, for instance, are among the tenants leasing space in the Ventura Business Campus, a five-year-old office complex formerly co-owned by Trammell Crow Co. and Imperial Savings. When Imperial was declared insolvent and seized by federal officials in early 1990, the RTC became co-owner of the property.
One recent list of seized properties in California filled 48 pages, with entries ranging from "lot with shed" (in Lemoore, sale pending at $30,000) to "comm-resort/golf course" (in Cathedral City, available for $11 million).
Among the listed Ventura County properties:
* Two unbuilt commercial lots in the Montalvo area of Ventura. One 4.39-acre lot, at Capri Avenue and Elba Street, was being offered by federal officials at $1 million. The other, a block away at Capri and Johnson Drive, was part of a pending sale at $1.67 million.
* Four branch offices of Santa Barbara Savings & Loan (now known as Santa Barbara Federal Savings & Loan), at 634 E. Main St. in Santa Paula, 838 Ventura St. in Fillmore, 93 S. Chestnut and 3260 Telegraph Road in Ventura. None had been appraised by federal officials.
* More than 20 units at the 240-unit Parkside condominium complex, two blocks from the County Government Center in Ventura. The Roger Boyar Group Inc. is the developer. Federal officials stepped in when lender Santa Barbara Savings & Loan was seized in April, 1990. Sales were reported pending on all of the remaining units, at prices from $127,500 to $150,000 each.
* The Ventura Business Campus, a 100,000-square-foot office building at 5200 Valentine Road, Ventura. Co-owned by Trammell Crow. Not yet appraised.
* A single-family residence on Chippewa Avenue in Simi Valley, later sold for an undisclosed amount.
* The Radisson Hotel in Simi Valley. The hotel, which includes 195 rooms and an Enchanted Way address, opened in February, 1989, and remains in business. Its changes in ownership date back to 1988, when then-owner Mir Kazem Kashani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, giving control of the property to County Bank of Santa Barbara. The bank put the property up for sale at $21 million. But before it could sell, County Bank was seized by federal officials on March 27 of this year.
Resolution Trust Corp. properties turn over rapidly, federal officials say, and some of those listed here may have already changed status. Those seeking more information on properties can request the pamphlet "How to Buy Real Estate" or call the agency's real estate information center at 800-431-0600. Letters can be addressed to:
Resolution Trust Corp.
1901 Newport Blvd.
3rd Floor East
Costa Mesa CA 92628