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Shea Properties to Build Office Complex in Aliso Viejo

Real estate: Project would be one of the largest in South Orange County. No tenants are lined up, yet.


Moving to capitalize on a booming market, Shea Properties said Tuesday it plans to build one of the largest office projects in South Orange County, a 1.5-million-square-foot campus in Aliso Viejo that would cost $350 million.

The developer has lined up financing for the first phase of the Vantis complex--a five-story, 150,000-square-foot office building that is expected to cost $30 million, said Jack Godard, senior vice president of the company's Southern California division. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring.

In a sign of the burgeoning demand for prime office space, the company is planning to proceed with construction before lining up potential tenants.

Godard, noting that there's a steady stream of companies looking to expand or locate in Orange County, said he expects no difficulty filling the complex.

The ambitious project "is indicative of the strength of the market in Orange County," said John Owen III, managing partner of Voit Commercial Brokerage in Anaheim.

Around the county, buildings that sat nearly empty a decade ago are filling with tenants, and new office buildings, even high-rises, are sprouting up.

But companies continue to snap up office space at the fastest pace in a decade, resulting in higher lease rates as well, according to Voit.

In all, Shea plans to build nine buildings, from three to eight stories, over the next five to seven years on a 40-acre site near Aliso Viejo Town Center.

The project represents another coup for Aliso Viejo, a planned community in South Orange County that has drawn a number of major corporate headquarters, including engineering giant Fluor Corp., chip maker QLogic Corp., online retailer Inc. and Enfrastructure Inc., a high-tech business campus company. Shea itself recently relocated its headquarters to Aliso Viejo from Walnut.

Higher costs in more established hubs, such as Irvine, are pulling firms further south to communities such as Aliso Viejo, which offer cheaper rents and available space.

Owen said momentum generated by the growing number of companies moving to Aliso Viejo should generate more interest from others.

Indeed, a slightly larger Aliso Viejo campus, the Summit, has been successful in attracting tenants. That campus, which is being developed by Parker Properties, is expected to total 1.7 million square feet when completed.

Shea also has opened the Town Center Corporate Park, a 31-acre project in Aliso Viejo.

Shea Properties is the real estate investment arm of J.F. Shea Co. of Walnut, which owns more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial space and 5,600 multifamily units in California and Colorado.

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