Clearly, the Burke Real Estate Group of Santa Ana has been satisfied with developing land in its home state. In the 30 years since the company was founded, it has developed more than 4 million square feet of commercial property in Southern California.
Until recently, all that development was concentrated in Orange County and Los Angeles. But in late 1997, the company finally dipped into Ventura County, purchasing an 11-acre industrial site in Thousand Oaks and developing what will be the Grande Vista Business Park.
The success of that initial county venture--about 70% of the 22 buildings have been leased with the project yet to be completed--has encouraged Burke officials to try their luck farther north.
In August, Burke completed a $1.86-million purchase of a 7.7-acre property along Calle Plano in Camarillo. Company officials plan to construct an 18-building, 119,720-square-foot industrial complex at the site formerly owned by the San Miguel Land Co.
The business park, scheduled for completion next summer, will offer units of 5,000 to 10,000 square feet, similar in size to those at the Grande Vista development. And as with the Thousand Oaks business park, construction will begin on the future Burke Camarillo Corporate Center with few corporations lined up to fill the space.
Not that Burke officials are particularly concerned.
"There's been a pent-up demand over the last five or seven years for 5,000- and 10,000-square-foot spaces," said Jason Harris, project director for the Burke Real Estate Group.
"There's virtually no land zoned for manufacturing left in the market," he said. "The only land is already built on or is on the hillside. This is one of the last flat pieces of land we could find between the Conejo Valley and Camarillo."
Harris said three companies--two distribution firms and one light manufacturing operation--are in escrow on buildings within the center. He said he expects a handful of businesses to be in escrow by the time construction is completed, around the middle of 1999.
"This center will cater to business owners from high-tech to basic warehousing," Harris said.
"We're going to target the Conejo Valley, Camarillo and Oxnard. We're looking for existing businesses that are successful--that have been in business five years--and are able to get the financing or finance it themselves," he said.
Bob Pettit of Bob Pettit Commercial Realty will handle the marketing of the project, as he did the Grande Vista Business Park. Pettit said he will be on the lookout for business owners tired of leasing space in multi-tenant buildings. With federal Small Business Administration loans at a low rate, he said, purchasing a building can be more cost-effective than renting a space.
"Guys know their rents are going up, and they're saying, 'Why should we pay rent when we can get our own building, when we can get 10% on an SBA loan?' " Pettit said. "It really makes sense for these smaller guys."
Officials of the Burke Real Estate Group plan to develop at least six business parks in Los Angeles and Orange counties within the next year, Harris said. As for Ventura County, he said, the firm will wait and see.
"We're very excited about the market in Ventura County. However, it is a market where typically growth has lagged behind the other markets," Harris said. "We are cautiously optimistic, so we don't want to overbuild--we're concerned about absorption. Long-term, it's a fabulous market with tremendous amenities and a quality of lifestyle that's tough to beat."