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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Still Building, Believe It or Not

Think homebuilders have completely shut down in Los Angeles? Think again.

While construction has slowed and in most cases halted nationwide, there are still homes going up in the county despite the area’s reputation as ground zero for the housing boom and bust.

In the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, Westwood-based KB Home and Lennar Corp. of Miami are moving forward with developments. Entire subdivisions are being assembled even as developers pull up stakes elsewhere.

For the most part, the projects under construction are those final developments left over from the boom that companies just want to get off their books, said Jeffrey Gault, a former executive with KB Home.

“They are just finishing off whatever they’ve got,” said Gault, now chief executive of Century City-based LandCap Partners, a land investor that purchases distressed residential assets. “If they bought land in ’05 or ’06 they are losing money (on them).”

Lennar is building eight neighborhoods in the Santa Clarita community of Valencia, according to Marlee Lauffer, a spokeswoman for Newhall Land and Farming Co., a Valencia land developer owned by Lennar and two other entities.

One of the company’s Valencia projects is called Patina, featuring 110 homes of 2,756 to 3,060 square feet and starting in the “low $600,000s.” It also boasts energy-saving features such as solar panels and tankless water heaters, according to the company’s Web site and news stories.

A spokesman for Lennar said that the company does not comment about individual projects, and Lauffer said she was not authorized to speak for Lennar.

Last week, however, workers were at the project, pouring cement for sidewalks, completing block walls and doing other jobs. And an agent at the sales office said homes were under construction and for sale.

By contrast, KB Home is moving ahead with projects but not on a so-called “spec” basis like Lennar. Instead, the company typically builds a home after a buyer chooses a customized floor plan, various potential upgrades and closes a sale. In this market, that can mean lopping off an entire room to reduce the price. The company’s 174-unit Calico Terrace project in Palmdale is an example of this. (See sidebar page 22.)

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