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Whiting Ranch Near El Toro Being Sold : New JC/RG Corp. Buys 2,700 Acres from Carma

Times Staff Writer

The Whiting Ranch--the 2,700 acres north of El Toro planned for 3,900 homes and industrial and commercial development--is being sold by Carma Developers to a newly formed Los Angeles corporation for an undisclosed price, Carma’s chairman and chief executive officer confirmed Wednesday.

Wayne Sramek said that Carma Developers Inc., a Houston-based company whose Canadian parent Carma Ltd. is in the throes of restructuring its finances, did not want to invest the approximately $100 million that would be necessary to develop the ranch over the next 10 years and thus welcomes the chance to sell the property to a firm called the JC/RG Corp.

“It was quite a good opportunity for us to get out and we elected to do it,” said Sramek. He refused to disclose the terms of the pending sale, which he said is expected to close Friday. He said he could not identify the individuals who make up JC/RG.

JC/RG was incorporated Sept. 26, according to documents filed with the state Department of Corporations. The names of the firm’s officers have not yet been recorded.

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Carma bought the Whiting Ranch in 1979 for an undisclosed price, then estimated to be slightly more than $12 million. “We thought it was just a good buy at the time,” Sramek said. But now, he said, development of the ranch does not fit into Carma’s “near-term business plan,” which he described as avoiding “buying large pieces of land or making large capital investments.” He said Carma had been shopping for a buyer for the ranch for the last six months.

Under a plan approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1982, the Whiting Ranch can be developed with up to 3,900 homes, 100 acres of office and retail buildings and 292 acres of light industrial and research and development buildings. The plan also includes about 1,400 acres of parks and open space.

E. A. (Sandy) Sandling, an Irvine builder who since 1979 has managed Carma’s real estate developments in Southern California, said Tuesday he expected that the new buyers of the Whiting Ranch would spur development of the property. He said development has been stalemated since 1982, first by a deep real estate recession and high interest rates and later by Carma’s corporate financial difficulties.

Sandling also would not disclose any information about the new buyer of the ranch, saying that it was a matter of confidentiality. But he said he has received “an indication” from the principals of the company that one of his firms will be retained as their “development arm.”

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Sandling said he is forming a new company, to be called Sandling Homes, and will no longer work exclusively with Carma Developers. “We will still be operating about five major projects for Carma in Southern California and will have joint-venture relationships with other financial partners,” he said.

After the Whiting Ranch sale is consummated, Sandling said, Carma will own 1,000 acres in Southern California. Three years ago, he said, the company owned 6,000 acres in the area.


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