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Argyros Family Sells Santa Ana Land Parcel for $51M

Ledcore Group plans 644 rental units, retail

Costa Mesa-based Arnel & Affiliates has sold one of its long-standing Santa Ana development sites in a $51 million multifamily land play.

San Diego-based Ledcor Group paid about $6 million per acre for the site adjacent to the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, where it plans to kick off construction next year on what will be one of the city’s largest mixed-use residential projects in recent years.

Arnel, the development and investment company founded by the Argyros family in the late 1960s, has owned the former agricultural site at 1801 E. Fourth St.—located close to the 16-story office tower previously known as the Xerox Centre—for more than three decades. The nearly 8.5-acre site is currently unused.

Newport Beach-based Waterford Group partnered with Arnel as a fee development partner in 2018 to head the entitlement process for the redevelopment; it won approvals in 2021 for a 644-unit apartment project with some ground-floor retail space and about 1,400 parking spaces.

“This is our largest entitlement project to date in Orange County,” Waterford co-founder Sean Rawson told the Business Journal. “This is a great example of our ability to execute on large, mixed-use multifamily projects in California.”

The sale is tops for multifamily land deals in OC year-to-date, according to records from real estate market tracker CoStar Group Inc.

First OC Project

Ledcor plans to break ground in mid-2023 on the project, comprised of two five-story buildings wrapped around a seven-level parking structure.

The deal marks a rare sale for Arnel, which is reported to own close to 4,500 apartment units in Orange County. The company acquired the Santa Ana parcel when it was one of last remaining agricultural land sites in urban Orange County and has spent the past two decades working to redevelop it.

In 2006, prior to Waterford’s entitlement involvement, Arnel was in talks with Shea Homes to redevelop the site into a 600-unit project with 7,750 square feet of commercial space. Those plans fell through due to market volatility around the time of the Great Recession.
The new plans include 644 multifamily units, 15,130 square feet of ground-floor retail and a parking structure that’s entitled for roughly 1,400 spaces.

It’s the first known local development for Ledcor Group, which develops various commercial projects across North America. It has a local office in Costa Mesa.

Nearby, Ledcor earlier this year took the wraps off Shoreline Gateway in Long Beach, a 35-story luxury apartment building that’s now the tallest tower in Long Beach.

Also in Long Beach, Waterford is building out its largest development to date: the 1,000-unit Mosaic project, which is a redevelopment of the City Place shopping center in downtown.

Spurring Redevelopment

The Santa Ana project is estimated to cost around $315 million, sources indicate.

Previously referred to as the Central Pointe Mixed-Use Development, the project is within the Metro East Mixed-Use Overlay District, which was rezoned about seven years ago in a push to spur development in the area. Several other high-end complexes have been built in the vicinity in recent years.

“That provided the impetus for the redevelopment,” Rawson said of the rezoning.
Other notable apartment projects underway in the area include a 1,100-unit complex with 80,000 square feet of retail led by Greystar Real Estate Partners. The project is a redevelopment of a 15-acre industrial parcel along Red Hill Avenue once used by Ricoh Electronics.

“The location is a major employment hub in central Orange County, making it very desirable to developers,” Rawson said.

Santa Ana this year dropped a notch in population, falling behind Irvine, and is now Orange County’s third-largest city (see OCBJ Insider, page 3). The city has a few large developments in the early stages of planning which could add thousands of residents over the coming decade.

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