Industrial vacancies in Ventura County jumped during the first quarter, although local brokers explain that the empty space is the result of several new projects hitting the market rather than a spate of industrial tenants moving out.
The vacancy rate rose to 9.6 percent during the quarter, up from 8.3 percent in fourth-quarter 1998, according to CB Richard Ellis Inc.
“Some of the buildings that have been under construction for industrial use have now been completed and are part of the inventory,” said Michael Walsh, partner and vice president of Daum Commercial Real Estate Services.
Those new projects include three properties in Oxnard built by Centex Development LLC, and two 50,000-square-foot properties in Oxnard from Foxborough Park Inc.
Brokers believe vacancies have topped out and should level off in the current quarter.
“There’s no way we’re going to absorb a million and a half square feet by next quarter, but we’ll make progress,” said CB industrial-market associate Jerry Steinke. “Every listing I have has activity. I am a little worried about the 40,000-square-feet-and-up range in Oxnard; we have about 19 buildings in Oxnard that are either subleased or vacant, and that’s going to affect the market.”
One of the biggest industrial lease deals was signed by Aquaria Inc. for 41,651 square feet in Moorpark. In addition, German sandpaper manufacturer Klingspor Abrasives Inc. recently signed a seven-year lease for 40,000 square feet, and BKM Total Offices of California leased another 27,895 square feet.
While brokers expect vacancy rates to decline, they acknowledge that high prices are making some tenants reluctant to sign deals in Ventura County.
“Is the market overpriced? It’s hard to say, but, yeah there’s a bit of sticker shock,” said Fred Ferro, vice president of Capital Commercial Real Estate.
On the investment front, Newbury Park-based PTI Technologies Inc. purchased a 125,322-square-foot building in Oxnard, formerly used by Image Labs.
While retail vacancies inched up to 6.2 percent from 6.0 percent in fourth-quarter 1998, the vacancy rate is still well below the 7.4 percent of a year ago. East Ventura County rates rose from 4.3 percent to 4.9 percent, while west county rates fell from 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter to the current 7.4 percent.
The Westlake Plaza mall in Westlake Village was purchased by Regency Realty for $31 million. Meanwhile, west Ventura County’s most prominent retail development, Pacific View Mall at 3301 E. Main Street in Ventura, recently added Old Navy and the The Gap as new retailers, according to CB Vice President Reed Henkelman.
Longs Drugs and an assisted living center are planned for the Paradise Chevrolet location at Victoria and Telephone in Ventura, which is being demolished. In addition, a 50,000-square-foot gas and fast food convenience center is planned for Oxnard, and Edwards Theatres is expanding to 220,000 square feet in Camarillo, where the movie theater chain is adding 10 screens to its current 12-screen multiplex. The Edwards project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2000.
A major mall in Simi Valley at Madera and the 118 Freeway will open this fall. The site will include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Office Depot, KayBee Toys, PetsMart and an Applebees restaurant. And at Royal and Madera in Simi Valley, the Centre Court retail center will open late this year with Albertsons, Rite Aid and 24-Hour Fitness, Henkelman said.
Office vacancy rates have been on the decline since early 1997, when Ventura County office availability rose to 16.5 percent, and the rate continued to slip in the first quarter from 8.8 percent to 8.3 percent. CB Richard Ellis associate Tom Dwyer attributes the strong quarter to property renovation projects.
“It’s great to see companies reinvesting money to renovate property,” he said. “We’ve been seeing this in the eastern part of the county, but now it’s happening in western Ventura County, too.” East county vacancies slipped from 8.0 percent in the fourth quarter to 7.8 percent, while the west Ventura County rate slid from 12.3 percent to 11.4 percent.
New Horizons leased 11,500 square feet of office space and Superior National Insurance leased 10,300 square feet in Oxnard’s landmark Financial Tower. Dwyer said Camarillo has virtually zero available office space in desirable properties.
“The vacancy rate will go down further in Camarillo because class-A and class-B buildings are not available,” he said.
Things are also active on the office development front. Scheu Development’s recently completed 10,000-square-foot office building in North Ranch Corporate Center in Westlake Village is now fully pre-leased. Amoroso & Co. has completed a 25,300-square-foot office project in Calabasas/Lost Hills that is 25 percent occupied, and Dwyer predicts it will be 100 percent pre-leased by the end of May.
? PTI Technologies Inc. purchased a 125,322-square-foot building at 2340 Eastman Ave. in Oxnard.
? Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village was purchased by Regency Realty for $ 31 million.
? Edwards Theatres is expanding to a total of 220,000 square feet of space in Camarillo. Edwards is adding 10 screens for a total of 22 screens.
? Silagi Development started construction this month on a 50,000-square-foot class-A office building in east Ventura County.
? New Horizons leased 11,500 square feet of office space and Superior National Insurance leased 10,300 square feet in Oxnard Financial Tower.