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Once Neglected, OC a Push for KB Home

Jay Moss, Southern California regional general manager of KB Home, hopes to make up for lost time.

The Los Angeles-based company, one of the nation’s top homebuilders, has been absent from Orange County since the 1990s, missing out on one of the hottest housing markets.



Playing Catch-up

KB’s big rivals, Miami-based Lennar Corp., D.R. Horton Inc. and Centex Corp., both of Texas, haven’t been as remiss.

Moss, who heads KB’s OC division from Irvine, hopes to join the local housing party, even as it enters its later hours.

On tap for his division are several local projects, including traditional homes and townhouses in Anaheim and urban condominiums in Irvine near John Wayne Airport.

In Anaheim, KB is looking to dovetail on Lennar’s big plans for the area around Angel Stadium of Anaheim.


First in Triangle?

With Gateway Centre, a condominium development, KB hopes to be one of the first builders to have homes for sale in the suddenly hot section of Anaheim, where Lennar plans thousands of homes, including high-rise towers.

KB is playing a tough game of catch-up. Its largest current projects here call for more than 500 homes, which could vault KB into the top tier of homebuilders here. But the number still is far from the ambitious plans of Lennar or the weighty track records of Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. and Newport Beach’s William Lyon Homes Inc.

And, so far, KB doesn’t appear set to build at the county’s big upcoming developments: the former Marine bases at El Toro and Tustin, The Irvine Company’s Northern Sphere project in Irvine or Rancho Mission Viejo LLC’s land in South County.



Played Down OC

Prior management at KB played down OC, according to Moss. He took over the top local spot in 2003.

KB used to build here and then turned its sights to other Southern California areas, including its own Los Angeles back yard and the Inland Empire.

“Our business is to predict the future,” Moss said. “We didn’t do a good job doing that” in OC.

KB has spent two years getting ready to build homes here.

“We’re here now,” Moss said.

KB is taking the wraps off its first sizable project here: Magnolia Lane, which calls for 38 two-story detached homes and 76 townhomes. The 9-acre site is on Magnolia Avenue near Lincoln Avenue.

Sales are set to start next month. Prices are yet to be determined.

In Irvine, KB plans 156 luxury condos at Martin and Douglas near John Wayne Airport. The 3.5-acre site used to house offices. Building could start in March.

KB plans to lure buyers with an emphasis on luxury and a French theme for the project, called Avignon. The company faces competition from high-rise condos and other housing going up on and around Jamboree Road.

In Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle, KB bought land zoned for housing for its Gateway Centre project. Plans call for 266 homes at State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue. Construction could start in May.



Triangle Details

Gateway Centre could be among the first homes built in the Platinum Triangle. Lennar only recently started razing industrial buildings to make way for its first homes there.

Lennar plans nearly 2,700 homes, including 14 condo towers, at the Triangle.

KB is big elsewhere in California. The company has sold more than 5,000 homes in the state in each of the past three years.

KB’s mainstay: first and move-up homes, though it also does more pricey houses. That experience could serve the company well with affordability at a low in OC. The county’s urbanization also is appealing, Moss said.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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