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Office Project to Be Built in Hesperia

The speculative venture shows confidence in economic prospects for the high desert city.

August 16, 2004|Annette Haddad | Times Staff Writer

Construction is set to begin Tuesday on a speculative, $5-million office building in Hesperia, a show of confidence that demand for commercial space in the high desert community is poised to grow along with the population.

The 40,320-square-foot project would increase by 60% the office supply in the city of 68,000, said Jim Brooks, president of developer Empire Commercial Real Estate.

Brooks' firm has yet to sign any tenants to occupy the two-story project. Yet forecasts about the region's growth convinced him that building on spec was worth the gamble.

"We're bullish," Brooks said. "Absorbing 40,000 square feet of office space won't be a significant challenge."

The Inland Empire is one of the fastest-growing commercial and residential real estate markets in the U.S. The region is expected to add 1.7 million people from 2000 to 2020, according to the most recent report by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership.

Just east of the Cajon Pass, Hesperia and the adjacent high desert communities of Victorville, Apple Valley and Adelanto are considered by some experts to be in an economic "hot zone."

Once considered too remote, the area is benefiting from rising home prices and shrinking amounts of land to the west, as more affordable housing is built and new families move in.

During the first quarter of 2004, Hesperia and the other towns collectively posted the highest new-home sales of any region in San Bernardino County.

As Brooks sees it, the rapid growth in the housing market has created demand for commercial office space, and his project would help fill some of that need -- even without pre-leasing any offices.

"We believe we'll end up with positive results," he said.

Speculative office construction has been rare in Southern California since the early 1990s, when demand for office space collapsed with the economy.

The Empire Business Center will be located on Mariposa Road near Interstate 15. It is slated for completion in December.

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