Thomas Lee

Newhall Land & Farming Co.

Age: 54

Specialty: Developer

Recent Deals: Just signed agreement with Princess Cruise Lines to develop 110,000 square feet of office space in Valencia; completing 725,000 square foot Valencia Marketplace shopping center anchored by Wal Mart.

Thomas Lee heads up one of the biggest development companies in California. But as chairman and chief executive of Newhall Land & Farming Co., he is more than a developer.

“We’re building a city here,” said Lee. “There’s not many in real estate who can say that. It’s a very exciting thing to be a part of.”

Newhall Land’s Valencia development forms the nucleus of the city of Santa Clarita, one of the fastest-growing (and safest) cities in the state.

“It’s been a very active year,” says Lee of the continued development in Valencia. The company recently announced that it will build 130,000 square feet of office space at Valencia Town Center, 110,000 of which will be taken by Princess Cruise Lines. Other current or planned developments include a 250-room Hyatt Hotel with a 20,000 square-foot conference center, a 55,000 square-foot Spectrum Club, and an entertainment complex with an Imax 3 D theater and a 12-plex Edwards Theater.

Newhall Land is also waiting for government approval to begin developing what would be the largest master-planned community in L.A. County Newhall Ranch.

As designed, Newhall Ranch would be adjacent to Valencia and house nearly 70,000 people in more than 25,000 apartments, townhouses and upscale homes. Like Valencia, the community would also include commercial, industrial and mixed use development.

The proposed community has seen its share of opposition, however, including concerns about the effect on the environment, traffic and local school districts.

Lee recognizes that there’s more to building cities than putting up structures. “When building a whole planned community, you must be involved in the social structure of the community,” said Lee. To that end, he has been involved in community and charitable activities, including being on the board of the Boys and Girls Club and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce (he is a former chairman).

Lisa Steen Proctor

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