The remaining residential acreage in Playa Vista’s second stage of development is slated to be sold by the end of the year, multiple sources within the real estate community confirmed recently to The Argonaut.
The pending transaction has been discussed previously in real estate circles for months and a noted prospective buyer could be in line to purchase the property, according to one of the sources.
“There has been a process in place since earlier this year to solicit bids for acquisition of the residential component (of the Village),” the source said.
The Village is a 111-acre development that will contain 2,600 residential units, 175,000 square feet of office space, and 150,000 square feet of retail space. It is the second stage of the planned community’s mission to create a live, work and play atmosphere for the more than 6,000 current residents of Playa Vista.
“I don’t think (news of the sale) will come as a great surprise to many outside the real estate community,” another source said.
The Irvine Co., one of California’s largest real estate companies and master planners, is rumored to be one of the potential buyers.
The Newport Beach-based real estate investor owns the 1221 Ocean Ave. property in Santa Monica, a condominium high rise in that coastal city where rents begin at nearly $6,000 a month.
The company, which is led by billionaire real estate mogul Donald Bren of Newport Beach, owns 480 office buildings, and 40 retail centers, as well as hotels, marinas, and golf courses, according to its company profile.
It also owns one of the largest planned communities in the United States, the Irvine Ranch, which spans 93,000 acres and where nearly 300,000 people reside.
An Orange County publication reported last month that the developer was rumored to be involved in putting together a land deal with a consortium of real estate interests in order to build apartments, which Playa Capital had planned to build.
Purchasing Playa Capital property that is slated for residential development would expand The Irvine Co.’s rapidly growing portfolio. The company currently owns approximately 45,000 apartments and 125 complexes in California. Most of them are located in Orange County.
The news of a pending sale of land slated for residential development comes two years after the Village was granted final approval by the Los Angeles City Council following a series of contentious court battles waged by a bevy of environmental organizations that accused the developer of not properly addressing environmental and wildlife concerns.
Some of the more aggressive groups accused the council of engaging in a “land giveaway” to Playa Vista.
Opponents of Playa Vista scored a victory n 2007 when they won an appellate ruling halting the environmental impact report on the second stage of development, or Phase II. The EIR was returned to the City Council after it ruled the council violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved a 2005 environmental impact report that allowed construction of Playa Vista’s Phase II. The ruling temporarily halted plans for the Village.
The council subsequently addressed the court’s concerns and the environmental document was approved three years later.
The land in question is approximately 100 acres and could hold approximately 1,500 apartments, according to the real estate sources.
The multiple sources added that until the transaction is completed, there could be two other bidders involved in the process, including an international home builder.
Playa Capital is primarily owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs. It opened Phase I in 2003 and has been cited as one of the most well-planned contained communities by a variety of planning and real estate authorities.
The majority of the first stage of development is residential with some retail and commercial space. It also includes several recreational areas, including a soccer field, several basketball courts and many public parks.
Following the approval of the Village, Playa Capital representatives announced that the first major project at the Village will be a 14-acre retail project called Runway at Playa Vista, developed by Lincoln Property Co. with partners Phoenix Property Co. and Paragon Commercial Group.
Representatives from Playa Capital declined to comment for this story.
The Los Angeles Jewish Home is also planning to open its first Westside senior care complex at the Village.
The facility will be designed to serve the residential, healthcare and in-home needs of approximately 600 seniors. The 18-month wait list for the new care facility already includes approximately 400 people, half of whom live on the Westside, a Jewish Home spokesperson noted.
Playa Vista officials want to make the Village an entertainment center as well. On July 19, Cinemark Holdings, Inc., the world’s highest attended motion picture exhibitor, announced that it plans to construct a nine-screen, all-digital movie theatre that will feature the company’s new Cinemark NextGen design concept in the Runway at Playa Vista.
Michael Lyster, vice president of communications for the Irvine Co,. did not return calls for comment at Argonaut press time. §

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