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Lot C Update: Deal in Progress

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"Lot C" is the name of the undeveloped lot that Lowe's wanted to build on, and was at the center of the issue on Measure Z last November. Lowe's indicated that if Measure Z did not pass, they would sell the property and move on.

Everything said and done, Lowe's had approximately $23 million into the property. Rumors are that the property would sell for at least $30 million, and probably a good chunk more than that. But, until a deal is done and closed (and in public records) we won't know the final price for sure.

Opus West has been interested in Lot C over the last four years. Opus West is part of the Opus Group and the office building developer who built the Farmer's building near the Westlake Village City Hall.

Opus is now under contract with Lowe's for an undisclosed amount for the property. In short, this means that Opus has a deal on the property pending due diligence. The deal is expected to close as early as the end of this year. If it doesn't close for some reason, presumably Lowe's will solicit other buyers that have already expressed interest.

In the past, office building developers in Westlake Village have been open to having a restaurant or other types of uses for some of their development. But, what it always comes down to is how to make it make sense for the developer when compared to office space. In other words, the developers want to maximize their return on their investment, and when they give up lucrative office space sq. footage, there has to be a good reason.

It goes without saying that the more the new owners pay for Lot C, the more they will need to recoup. Restaurants are tough businesses with lower profit margins than most businesses, and a higher failure rate. Most developers would say that retail can also be a challenge, but not as difficult as restaurants. For the developer, office space represents one of, if not the, best returns on investment for this type of property especially when combined with risk assessment.

Please note: A contract is in place for purchase of the property, and that would also include existing entitlement rights. These rights are well defined, and so long as the developer lives within the entitlement rights and Westlake Village building standards, they can develop to the maximum of the rights. As you may remember from previous Westlake Revelations pieces, this includes 376,000 sq ft of office space up to 4 stories across multiple buildings.

Plans for this development have not been submitted, and until they are, they are not a matter of public record. That said, given the developer has rights which are well established, the city will not be able to withhold approval unreasonably unless it wants to risk a law suit.

Some Westlake Revelations readers have asked about if we can have a park, or a town center, or other types of developments in Lot C. In the past, the city has reached out to developers asking them to come up with proposals that were not office space for this area. The only proposal to come back was the Lowe's project. That said, a project that is not office space at all is not realistic.

The only thing that may be possible is for a development that has something in addition to office space. But, for that to happen, it will have to be a plan that makes sense for both the developer (and the city) to do -- and both would need to see it as a better option than the existing developer rights of building out the maximum office space.

Upcoming Straw Polls

Westlake Revelations will be introducing straw polls on upcoming topics. To keep it secure (e.g., the ballot box not getting stuffed), you will need to be a subscriber to the Westlake Revelations email list to partake. So, if you are getting forwarded this email, please make sure to sign yourself up now at http://www.westlakerevelations.com/subscribe.php -- after all, the more people that express their opinions, the better.

Have comments on issues?

Westlake Village residents are encouraged to come and see -- and even participate -- in the city council meetings. The next scheduled City Council Meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 13, 2006, 6:30 p.m. If you want to speak on any topic (whether it's on the agenda or otherwise), you can pick up a speaker's card at the door, fill it out, and give it to the City Clerk. You may speak for up to 3 minutes, and would do so from the podium between the audience seats and the council.