Compared to neighboring San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, the Antelope Valley has historically lagged as a commercial real estate market, a trend continues through this year for industrial and retail

But for multifamily, the Antelope Valley has emerged as a homebuying haven for those in the Valley or elsewhere in metro L.A. eager to buy or rent affordable housing. A big-money multifamily purchase and other groundbreaking underline the importance of housing for the market.

No doubt the splashiest real estate deal of the year thus far in Lancaster — and all of Antelope Valley — unfolded in February, when Blackstone Group sold a portfolio of two apartment buildings for $145 million. Cordova Park Apartments at 43530 Gadsden Ave. has 416 units, and the Sierra Heights at 43519 Kirkland Ave. has 314. 

L.A. firm Afton Properties was the buyer.

Also in Lancaster, USA Properties Fund has just broken ground on a $81 million, 264-unit multifamily complex.

The Roseville-based real estate developer is creating Terracina at Lancaster with the intent to bring greatly needed affordable housing to the fast-growing city in northern Los Angeles County.

JPMorgan Chase and WNC are investment partners.

Terracina at Lancaster will have 11, three-story buildings that surround a community space with play and recreation areas. When completed by late 2023, the apartment complex will offer one- to four-bedroom units and a large community space with a pool, sports court, tot lot, and barbecue and picnic area. 

The site – at 1752 E. Avenue J4 just west of the Antelope Valley Freeway – will be conveniently located near health care providers, shopping centers, restaurants and several public schools. 

 “We’ve enjoyed providing affordable housing to residents at Avenida Crossing, and we’re looking forward to the same experience with Terracina at Lancaster,” said USA Properties Fund President Geoff Brown.

Terracina at Lancaster is the fourth apartment community under construction by the 40-year-old USA Properties in Southern California, joining affordable housing developments in Panorama City and Simi Valley. Terracina at Lancaster is also less than a mile from the company’s Avenida Crossing.

Renters earning 50 to 60 percent of the area median income for L.A. County are eligible for Terracina at Lancaster. Estimated rents will range from $1,108 to $1,330 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,715 to $2,058 for four bedrooms.

In April 2019, Aurora Village Apartments, a low-income senior housing project in Lancaster, traded for $8.65 million, according to Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura.

Matt Benwitt, a Lee associate, represented seller Aurora Village LP while Edward Mulflur of Re/Max Commercial Woodland Hills brokered on behalf of buyer Afton Properties.

The complex at 43862 15th St. West consists of 132 one- and two-bedroom units on a 3.4-acre site a short distance from Antelope Valley Hospital. It stands within the city’s Amargosa Creek Master Plan, which envisions a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly district with retail and medical amenities.

“The seller developed this project under the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program,” Benwitt said. “With the expiration of the 15-year initial operation period, the new buyer is able to sell new tax credits. The buyer will also benefit from the property’s location in an Opportunity Zone. Recent installation of solar electric and water heating systems by the seller presented an attractive package to the buyer.”

Industrial comps

According to first-quarter data from Colliers International, the San Fernando Valley had more than 90 million square feet of industrial space with another 1 million under construction and weighted asking rent of 91 cents a square foot, while Santa Clarita had just over 20 million square feet and 80 cents for asking rent.

In the Antelope Valley, industrial space only totals 8.7 million square feet, with 160,000 square feet on the way. Weighted asking rent equals 80 cents.

But when Inc. sets up shop in Palmdale, it’s a sure sign that there’s plenty of runway here. Late last year, Greenlaw Partners acquired a 130,392-square-foot property, located at 600 W. Technology Drive, for $15 million from Sinclair Printing.

Greenlaw secured a tenant for the building. A previous story by the Business Journal identified the tenant as Amazon, which plans to establish a Delivery Services Partners center at the facility.

Delivery Services Partners is a program which the e-commerce giant launched in 2018 in which a logistics company partner leases Amazon-branded vans and hires its own drivers to deliver packages.

Situated on 8.7 acres, the 1998-built asset features ample warehouse space, 15,000 square feet of office space, a conference room and overflow storage space. The structure features 28-foot clear heights, four dock-high loading doors and refrigeration. It was previously occupied by SST Technologies.

Dennis Marciniak and Larry McEwan of Daum Commercial Real Estate Services brokered the property’s sale.

On a lesser note, the refrigerated warehouse at 742 W. Avenue L in Lancaster sold for $6.5 million to the family trust of John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Paul Mitchell haircare line. Visco Financial in Lancaster was the seller.

A healthy 38,000 square feet of industrial space sold or leased during the fourth quarter of last year, according to Colliers data. Vacancy fell to a mere 1.3 percent, compared to 2.4 percent a year ago. Industrial lease rates ratcheted up a penny to 80 cents a square foot.

Retail transactions

In September 2019, Palmdale retail center Rancho Vista Plaza, a 55,438-square-foot shopping center positioned at 3011 Rancho Vista Blvd. at the gateway to a 1,300-acre master planned community, sold for $10.9 million. The center’s featured tenants include Home Smart Realty, Cig World, Sam’s Pizza and Subway. 

Retail investment specialist Brandon Michaels, who works out of Calabasas-headquartered Marcus & Millichap Inc.’s Encino office, held the exclusive listing for Rancho Vista Plaza on behalf of the seller, a California limited liability company. Michaels also represented the buyer, an individual trust.

Within proximity to the 14 freeway, the retail center was 89 percent occupied at the time of the sale.  

Included in the sale of Rancho Vista Plaza is an undeveloped parcel of land just north of the corner of Rancho Vista Boulevard and 30th Street West. This 29,902 square foot piece of land, to be redeveloped, added value to the deal.

In April 2019 a private investor paid $6 million for two multi-tenant pad sites at the Walmart Supercenter in Lancaster.

The 100 percent-occupied buildings total 13,760 square feet. A pad is a parcel of commercial real estate that is adjacent to or surrounded by another development, such as standalone buildings in the parking lot of a shopping center.

Hanley Investment Group’s Executive Vice President Eric Wohl, President Ed Hanley and Associate Andrew Cunningham represented the sellers, Niki Group of San Diego and Wood Investments Cos. Inc. of Costa Mesa. James Chin of Realtex Properties in Los Angeles repped the buyer based in Los Angeles.

“The properties have excellent access and visibility and benefit from the high-traffic location with 30,000 cars per day at the intersection of East Avenue J and 20th Street,” Wohl said in a statement. “The shopping center has six points of ingress and egress and large pylon signage.”

AT&T, Papa John’s, Advance America and Mi Ranchito Mexican Bar and Grill currently occupy Pad B, a 7,500-square-foot building located at 1721 E. Avenue J. Pad G, a 6,260-square-foot structure at 44421 20th St. E., boasts core tenants Panda Express, Smoke Rings, GameStop and It’s a Grind.