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Southmark Will Acquire J. M. Peters : Dallas Real Estate Giant’s Assets Include Anaheim Hills Tract

Times Staff Writer

J. M. Peters Co., one of Orange County’s largest home builders, agreed Monday to be acquired by a subsidiary of Southmark Corp., a real estate and financial services conglomerate headquartered in Dallas.

Terms of the sale, expected to be made final July 1, were not disclosed.

The purchase is Southmark’s second in Orange County within the past year. Last July, the company’s San Jac Financial Services subsidiary bought the 2,400-acre Anaheim Hills subdivision from Texaco for an undisclosed sum.

$91 Million in Sales

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James Peters, founder and sole owner of the 10-year-old company, said he was approached four months ago by representatives of Southmark who were looking to extend their operations in Orange County. Southmark officials were unavailable for comment Monday.

Peters’ company, which reported sales of $91 million last year, builds primarily for the so-called “move-up” market, the group of second- and third-time home buyers who typically have more money to spend for a new home. Projects in Orange County, where the bulk of the company’s operations are located, include Belcourt, the luxury Cape Cod-style town houses on Jamboree Road in Newport Beach.

In all, Peters said, his company is developing 30 residential projects in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Clara counties. Construction is under way at 18 projects on a total of 2,500 houses, and Peters estimates 1985 sales to total nearly $200 million.

Peters, 50, said he expects to remain with the company indefinitely. His reasons for selling, he said, included estate planning but not a desire to reduce his workload.

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Southmark, a publicly held company with about $750 million in assets, has recently become more aggressive in its pursuit of residential real estate projects. Its purchase of the massive Anaheim Hills project last year, an official said at the time, marked one of the few times the company had acquired undeveloped land for future building.

Southmark moved into the California real estate market about five years ago with the purchase of Penn Phillips Properties, which later became Southmark Pacific, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dallas company that is now handling the development of the Anaheim Hills project.


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