For the past few years, a nearly half-acre plot at Center Street and Placentia Avenue — surrounded by a gate that's been targeted by graffiti — has been empty.
In the coming weeks, however, new life is planned for the Westside Costa Mesa parcel south of 19th Street with five single-family homes planned there by Newport Beach-based home builder RSI Development.
Center Place, as the project is being called, is among the latest developments RSI has planned for the Newport-Mesa area, which, along with the rest of Orange County, is experiencing a robust and recovering housing market after the Great Recession.
The homes will be built — from foundation to completion — within 90 days because the materials are factory-produced and assembled on site in a fashion called "The New House." The method avoids the use of pricey subcontractors and heavily reduces on-site construction waste, among other benefits, RSI officials said.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon along Center Street, New House Director of Sales Erick Montano said the company is aggressively going after property in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
RSI has invested some $17 million in Newport-Mesa land purchases to date. About 60 new houses — those completed and planned — amount to $40 million invested in the area, RSI officials said. Center Place is one part of that effort.
"This is a unique piece," Montano said. "Typically you don't find properties this large within an area that's been developed like Costa Mesa. This was a unique opportunity for us to develop contiguous homes in the same area."
The five two-story homes will have identical 1,621-square-foot floor plans, but each with different architectural styles: Colonial, French, Spanish and Craftsman.
"Very eclectic," he said. "For the five families that will be able to live here, it'll have a nice flavor and a nice mix."
The homes have two-car garages, three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. They will also have granite countertops, European-style cabinetry, tankless hot water heaters and Energy Star appliances, RSI officials said.
Price points are expected to be in the mid-$500,000s, with groundbreaking expected to begin next month and sales in December. The homes should be finished by the first quarter of next year.
"It's a tremendous value for the area, considering there are 14 homes on the market currently within the Westside Costa Mesa area, nine of which are priced competitively to that," Montano said, adding that RSI expects quick sales.
Center Place is part of revitalizing the Westside, he said. RSI sees this effort as similar to new houses built in areas of Buena Park and Santa Ana, Montano said.
RSI built nine homes in Buena Park and two in Santa Ana, he said. Both were part of an affordable-housing program.
Nearly 30 other new houses are planned for Costa Mesa by RSI. Ten are planned at 789 and 795 Paularino Ave. — an empty 1.7-acre site that until last year had a preschool and residence — and 19 homes at 650 Hamilton St., a 2.1-acre site that formerly contained the Port Mesa church.
[For the record, 9:43 a.m. Oct. 25: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Erick Montano's last name as Montana.]