Lennar Corp.’s Orange County experiment in high-rise condos ended recently when the homebuilder sold the Astoria towers at its Central Park West development in Irvine.
The property, which had been converted to apartments, sold in October for more than $144 million to an undisclosed buyer, said Ryan Gatchalian, president of Lennar’s Southern California Urban division.
That’s equivalent to $600,000 per unit for the 15-story, 240-unit towers located near Jamboree Road and the 405 freeway.
Astoria’s two-tower, 378,000-square-foot high rise is part of Lennar’s urban-style Central Park West condo development.
CoStar Group identified the buyer as Astoria Central Park West Inc. out of Tallahassee, Fla. Gatchalian said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from saying more about the buyer, other than it’s an institutional buyer interested in holding the buildings for the long term.
“My understanding is they’re planning to keep it as a rental,” Gatchalian said. “We felt it was a very favorable transaction for us. (It’s a) great buyer and it’s great for the overall community.”
The deal netted Lennar and partner Intergulf Development Group $53 million in cash after paying off $88 million in debts, Chief Financial Officer Bruce Gross said during a Dec. 18 earnings conference call. Gross said the transaction resulted in a net loss of $3.2 million.
Astoria was the last of five luxury high-rise condo projects launched in Orange County during the housing boom. At one time, developers had plans to build more than 50 condo towers in Orange County, including 11 high-rise residential buildings in Lennar’s A-Town development in Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle.
But the housing crash derailed those plans.
Only nine towers were built in the five projects. Two projects – Astoria and the 25-story Essex Skyline towers – were converted into apartments.
The apartments at Astoria, once priced to sell from $415,000 to $779,000, are now 94 percent rented, Gatchalian said. The most expensive unit is a 14th-floor, two-story, 3,185-square-foot corner penthouse that leased for up to $10,000 a month.
The two Astoria buildings have their own pool, a fitness center, a concierge, valet parking for guests, a wine-tasting room and 55-degree wine vault with more than 120 cages.
Gatchalian said the average rent is $3,300 a month. The average unit size is 1,560 square feet.