Arizona home builder Taylor Morrison Home Corp. has agreed to buy a swath of coastal Orange County land, kick-starting a long-stalled development that fell victim to the recession.
The builder, in a deal announced late Tuesday, said it would buy nearly 200 acres along a coastal bluff in San Clemente from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Taylor Morrison plans to start model home construction next year and begin selling homes in late 2015.
The price was not disclosed, although a person familiar with the deal valued it at more than $200 million.
The Marblehead development has been in the works for decades. It faced stiff opposition from environmental groups, which sought to save one of the last open spaces along the Southern California coast. Opponents won some key concessions, including fewer homes and more open space.
"Marblehead is a truly unique site," Taylor Morrison Chief Executive Sheryl Palmer said in a statement. "It presents a tremendous opportunity."
The land is among the most coveted pieces of California real estate — situated on a seaside bluff in upscale San Clemente. The bidding process drew the nation's large publicly traded home builders as well as international investors, the person familiar with the deal said.
The prize, however, went to a joint venture between Taylor Morrison and two of its large shareholders: Oaktree Capital Management and TPG.
The builder, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., said the deal was expected to close this month. Not included is land for a Marblehead outlet center, which is under construction.
The large, publicly traded builder plans 308 Spanish-style homes across four neighborhoods. Prices for the luxury single-family houses have yet to be determined, Taylor Morrison said.
The project, in which developers once envisioned 2,000 homes, skidded to a halt after financier Lehman Bros. collapsed in 2008. The Wall Street bank eventually took back the highly coveted project from Irvine developer SunCal after a bruising bankruptcy battle. No homes have been built, although many streets are finished and lots graded.
The seaside deal is a big catch for the company. Despite a rebounding housing market, the supply of new homes for sale in Southern California is at historic lows.
"There really hasn't been an opportunity for home buyers today to purchase a new home within the proximity to the beach and with the views that Marblehead Coastal is going to offer," said Phil Bodem, the company's Southern California division president.
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