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Well-Connected Hub

An estimated 125,000-plus residents live in Simi Valley, which occupies a strategic position: San Fernando Valley to the east, Moorpark to the west, Thousand Oaks to southwest and Westlake Village due directly south.For commercial real estate, Simi Valley is connect to those nearby markets via the 118 and 23 freeways. And within the Simi submarket are retail centers such as Simi Valley Town Center, Tapos Oaks Center, Stonegate Plaza and Mountain Gate Plaza.Simi Valley’s main tourist attraction is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a 243,000-square-foot mountaintop where museum exhibits and high-profile conservative speakers converge.Recent dealsThe year blasted off to a roaring start in January, during what was by most reports a fading market for office space because of the of pandemic, a transaction closed on an office building situated on a 12.5-acre property for a price of $30 million.The two-story, 206,917-square-foot structure at 450 America St., which was 100 percent leased to Bank of America, features abundant parking, four lobbies and an on-site café.A subsidiary of Griffin Capital Essential Asset REIT Inc.

sold the property, represented by Newmark’s Co-Head of U.S. Capital Markets Kevin Shannon, Executive Managing Directors Ken White, Rob Hannan and Sean Fulp, Senior Managing Director Laura Stumm and Managing Director Ryan Plummer. On the other side of the table, David Meir and Jack Minassian at Peak Commercial represented buyer Top Terraces Inc.

“The North L.A. submarkets have seen tremendous growth over the past decade, most recently with (Amazon.com Inc.) taking 290,000 square feet adjacent to 450 America, placing this investment directly in the path of progress,” Shannon said in a statement.

The deal came amid a COVID-19-impacted office market.

 The building itself underwent some post pandemic improvements such as expansive ceilings and operable doors to improve airflow.In July of last year, Griffin Capital Essential Asset REIT announced that it had sold a 273,241-square-foot office campus at 1800 Tapo Canyon Road to an investor for $24.5 million. The transaction represented something of a loss for Griffin Capital, which had originally purchased the property in 2015 for $28.6 million, according to data found at the commercial realty website Reonomy.Last year in October, the four industrial condominiums at 74 and 82 W. Cochran St. sold for nearly $7.2 million, or $250 per square foot. Grant Fulkerson, managing director of Lee & Associates’ Calabasas office, represented seller Patriot Drive B. Thousand Oaks-based PCI Commercial Realty Group President Paul Forbat represented the unnamed buyer. The condominiums were fully leased and Forbat represented both lessor and lessee in each lease transactions.The deal’s challenge, PCI Realty Vice President Judy Pitman explained, was a permit complication.“The developer/seller was midway in the process of converting the park to industrial condominiums when the buyer made the offer, and it was the buyer’s intention from the onset to lease to the church,” she said. “However, to do so, the buyer needed the CC&R (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) to allow for church use; the sale therefore couldn’t close until the new CC&R recorded, which in turn allowed the condo map to be recorded. So, it was a long escrow with significant legal work.”ResidentialIn late March, USA Properties Fund started construction on a pair of apartment projects in Simi Valley totaling 311 units, a combination of market rate and affordable senior housing.

The adjacent complexes, which have an overall price tag of $114 million, will provide mixed-income, multigenerational housing on a roughly 13-acre parcel. The Landing at Arroyo will consist of a market-rate apartment community with amenities while the Vintage at Sycamore will be an affordable senior community open to residents 62 years and older.USA Properties partnered with Century Housing, East West Bank and Gables Residential on funding. The Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura contributed a $3.5 million subsidy for Vintage at Sycamore, which will total 99 units for lower-income seniors.

The $32 million Vintage complex will include a clubroom, fitness center, a computer center with wi-fi and printers, a pool, an outdoor seating area with barbecues and a pet area. Apartments will feature energy-efficient appliances, patio or balcony and laundry rooms.

The $82 million 212-apartment Landing at Arroyo, at 1692 Sycamore Drive, promises a clubhouse with a kitchen, fitness center, saltwater pool and spa with cabanas, outdoor dining areas with fire pits, and a dog area.“This is highly sought-after land. It’s an excellent location,” said USA Properties Fund President Geoff Brown in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with the city of Simi Valley for several years.”Roseville’s USA Properties already has a history with the city of Simi Valley, where the entity owns and manages the Las Serenas and Vintage Paseo apartment developments.“We chose USA Properties because of its positive history with the city, as well as its willingness to provide much-needed affordable housing for our senior community,” said Simi Valley Mayor Pro Tem Dee Dee Cavanaugh. “Now, as a member of the City Council, I have the unique opportunity to be involved on the design and building side and will see this development to its completion.”In February of last year, a proposed four-story, 278-unit apartment complex had been approved under pressure-filled circumstances.The city of Simi Valley’s planning commission voted 4-1 on to recommend approval of a mixed-use development on the northeast corner of Tapo and Alamo streets, in an effort to meet state-instituted housing quotas. AMG & Associates of Encino had proposed its intention to raze most of the existing Belwood Center and replace the 7-acre site with a mixed-use development that would include the residential units – including 83 apartments deemed affordable – and roughly 8,000 square feet of commercial space.Then, after NIMBY pushback from locals, the planning commission rejected the AMG project on Dec. 4.However, since then, the municipality has come under pressure from state housing officials, who warned that Simi Valley could risk decertification and face serious repercussions if the city violated the Housing Accountability Act, which encourages the creation of affordable housing. As a result, Simi’s planning commission voted Jan. 22 to reconsider the project, which the commission then passed.Movie productionSince the early Westerns, Simi Valley has enjoyed a reputation as a versatile landscape for filmmakers.Turning 40 this year, Big Sky Movie Ranch recently saw a resurgence of film production in the afterglow of a high-profile HBO production “Westworld,” which filmed on the far northern end of Tapo Canyon Road throughout 2015 and 2016.

Hollywood has been shooting at Big Sky for decades, most famously for “Little House on the Prairie,” whose star and producer Michael Landon knew the ranch from playing on “Bonanza.” 

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