Orange County real estate outlook rosy, survey finds

Every indicator in a survey just completed by Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services points toward this year becoming one of the biggest ever for commercial/industrial real estate development in Orange County.

The survey reported that 44 shopping centers totaling 5.9 million square feet, and 46 office buildings totaling 6.6 million square feet, are under way and that the county could produce an absorption rate of 13 million square feet of industrial space if present trends continue.

The unprecedented upsurge in retail development reflects rising retail rental rates, that help make shopping centers competitive with office buildings as projects for developers, according to Robert A. Peterson, Coldwell Banker vice president who heads the firm’s Anaheim office. The survey was also prepared by the company’s Newport Beach and Santa Ana offices, headed by vice presidents J. Clark Booth and Scott Perley, respectively.

The survey, which included only neighborhood and community centers of 75,000 square feet and larger, showed the populous central section of the county with 23 new projects totaling 2.8 million square feet under construction or planned, 12 centers with 1.7 million square feet in the northern portion of the county and nine with 1.3 million square feet in the southern part.

“Add to the 5.9 million in these projects about 1 million square feet each for the South Coast Plaza and Santa Ana Fashion Square expansions and a half million for the expansion in Fashion Island in Newport Center, and you have an all-time record for retail development in Orange County,” Peterson said.


Move-ins of new businesses in Orange County also far outnumber move-outs, judging by the survey. “We have not seen a major firm move out of the county this year, and several have moved in,” Jim Bell, sales manager for the Coldwell Banker Newport Beach office, said.

Of the 6.6 million square feet of industrial space sold or leased in the first half of this year, 75% was to existing Orange County businesses and 25% to new companies or to companies outside the county opening new facilities there. The 4,512,066 square feet of industrial space under construction is another new record for the county, and three out of four square feet of the new space being built is for research-and-development use.

Sixteen of the structures being built are in the high-rise category, and so volatile is the office market in the county that some 10-year-old industrial buildings are being demolished for construction of new, high-rise offices. The county’s existing office space has expanded to 28.8-million square feet, and 6.6 million is under construction in 46 new projects with Coldwell Banker forecasting 2.4-million square feet to be absorbed in 1985.