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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Suburban Santa Clarita Gets Urban-Style Living

While it may be expected that more urban communities would be the target of developers seeking to build these new projects, even prototypical suburbia is the site of one. Cielo at Villa Metro, a 22-unit live-work complex opened earlier this month in Valencia, with easy access by foot or bike to the city’s Metrolink station – the kind of development one wouldn’t necessarily expect in a community known for its tract homes and long drives to work. The units are part of the larger Villa Metro development being built by New Home Co. of Aliso Viejo, which could eventually feature 315 single-family homes. “We think this is going to be a big success and we’re attributing that to the Metrolink station,” said Rick Bianchi, vice president at New Home. “We’ve already gotten interest from professionals that want to move out here and like how convenient it is to get into L.A.” The 21853 Soledad Canyon Road complex was originally approved by the city of Santa Clarita in 2006, with Newhall Land & Farming Co. as the developer. But the housing bust put Villa Metro on hold and New Home bought the project from Newhall Land last year. The live-work portion of the development is in its early phases, with four models completed and two more on the way. The total cost of the development, including the entitled property, houses and live-work units, is close to $70 million, with the Cielo portion accounting for a fraction of it. John Cserkuti, senior vice president at the Valencia office of commercial real estate brokerage NAI Capital Inc., said the live-work units should be attractive given their proximity to transportation. “The young professional demographic is absolutely increasing in Valencia, but this isn’t going to spread too rapidly around here,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see the word urban attached to anything out here for the foreseeable future, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow increase in the right areas over time.” Southbound commute The original Villa Metro development called for 406 townhomes and the 22 live-work units, but after New Home acquired the property it downsized the project to 315 homes while keeping the number of multifamily units the same, said Patrick Leclair, an associate planner for the city. “The community seems to be pretty in sync with the project. I haven’t heard any complaints,” he said. Cielo is a gated community and features some of the expected amenities, such as a recreation area. In addition, Bianchi said the facility pool will have a view of the nearby Santa Clara River and there is a community garden on site where residents can rent space to plant fruits and vegetables. There is a bike trail that connects out to the city and a pedestrian bridge over Soledad Canyon Road for easy access to the Metrolink station. The live-work units are lofts of up to three bedrooms and three- and one-half baths, ranging from 1,798 to 2,532 square feet with prices from the low $400,000s. Within each unit, there is also about 400 square-feet set aside for residents to run a business if they like. Bianchi said each live-work unit has separate entrances to the living area and work area. And the work portion faces the street, leaving the owner a chance to operate it as a storefront. In most cases, the residential portion has access on the back of the building, away from the street. This flexibility, said Bianchi, makes the units especially attractive to people whose businesses are just getting off the ground. “You don’t have to service debt on a mortgage as well as service debt on rent for your office,” he said. “And frankly, if your business doesn’t make a go of it, you still have a home. You can just repurpose the work area.” The single-family portion of Villa Metro opened this summer, with New Home completing 13 model homes and 52 homes for sale. In the five weeks since New Home began selling, Bianchi said more than 40 have already been purchased. As far as the live-work units, the developer said he expects similarly quick sales. “People just want to live and work all in the same place now,” he said. “This is the way things are moving.”

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