Apartment building boom spreads to South Bay

By Nick Green, Daily Breeze

Alta South Bay, seen in a rendering, will occupy a 4-acre site at Vermont Avenue and 223rd Street, with the six-story building wrapping around a five-story parking garage. 

 

Prompted by an “underserved” market for upscale rental housing in the area, a developer has broken ground on a $55 million, 246-unit luxury apartment complex close to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance.

Alta South Bay, as the complex will be known, will occupy a 4-acre site at Vermont Avenue and 223rd Street, with the six-story building wrapping around a five-story parking garage.

“With this building we’re providing a higher standard of living than currently exists in the older apartment communities in the area,” said Brian Hansen, Southern California regional director for Wood Partners in its Newport Beach office. “There are several hundred thousand jobs within a five-mile radius and we’re providing an affordable living option, but with a luxury experience and high-quality finishes in an undersupplied market.”

The 300,000-square-foot building at 22425 S. Vermont Ave. will house 143 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom. Amenities include a high-end “resort-style” pool deck, business center and Internet cafe.

Leasing is expected to begin in summer 2015. Rental amounts were not available.

It’s the fourth large apartment project in the county for Wood Partners, which was the nation’s No. 2 ranked multifamily housing developer last year based on its starts of more than 5,000 units.

This month the company opens a $75 million, 298-unit luxury apartment complex near Warner Park in Woodland Hills.

Next summer, a 290-unit apartment project in downtown Los Angeles is slated for completion.

In 2010, Wood Partners built a 218-unit Hollywood apartment complex it later sold.

Still, the company’s move into the South Bay is relatively unusual, said real estate investment company Marcus & Millichap in its third quarter report for the county.

“In the South Bay, where lower rents rarely support construction, apartment operations are holding up nicely,” the company said. “Vacancy continues to track lower in the area as household formation gains momentum, giving managers impetus to raise rents.”

Still, the apartment construction industry, which has benefited from low single-family home sales in the wake of the recession, is also showing signs it has peaked, Marcus & Millichap said.

Builders will complete 6,000 rentals this year, double last year’s figure, in what constitutes two consecutive years of above-average apartment development in the city of Los Angeles. That is expected to push vacancy rates up to 4.1 percent by the end of the year.

Analysts have noted that demographic change is driving the market, including young buyers who are rejecting homes in far-off suburbs in favor of rental units closer to jobs.

Alta South Bay is close to the expanding medical office market in Torrance, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and several major corporate headquarters.

Indeed, its pending development has already prompted, in part, the construction of a retail plaza a few blocks away at the northwest corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, just outside the Torrance city limits.

The 4.2-acre Harbor Gateway site was formerly the location of Ricky and Ronnie’s Drive-In.

The 50,000-square-foot Storm Plaza will have a 14,500-square-foot CVS pharmacy as its largest tenant.

 

 

“With the improving economy, demand for quality retail space has intensified,” said Jay Ahluwalia, president of Torrance-based Storm Properties, the project’s developer. “Since we started building, phone inquiries to our broker, and leasing activity, have increased dramatically.”

The area has more than 193,000 daytime employees, the company said.

The project will be built in three phases, in part because the site straddles the border of Los Angeles and the unincorporated county.

A second phase is projected to start this fall with all construction completed in 2014.

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