Local Economic Experts Speak During Real Estate Symposium

The High Desert real estate market is steadily improving, according to local economic experts who say the future forecast for the High Desert is clear skies ahead and beyond.

That optimistic prediction was made during the second annual High Desert Real Estate Symposium, held on March 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville.

Reasons behind this optimism include a decrease in unemployment, interest rates are at an all-time low, and the predicted increase of 3 percent in the Gross Domestic Product of 3, according Keynote speaker Fred Schmidt, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates. He boldly stated that consumer confidence is on the rise, and new construction is on the way.

Schmidt also said that shifting trends are driven by the Millennial generation (born 1980 to early 2000s), who like smaller workspaces with and more “coffee shop” style community areas. This group makes up one-third of the U.S. population. They want smaller office retail footprints. closer-to-home distribution hubs and more multi-family dwellings. California currently has the lowest multi-family market dwelling vacancy rate at 3.5 percent, and the High Desert is primed for new construction.

Another trend over the next 20 to 25 years is a change from the past when people moved somewhere to find a job. Now, people are looking at finding where they want to live, and the jobs are chasing them. States where this is happening are California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. Technology is also becoming a major component in the real estate market.

Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Solutions of Victorville hosted the symposium, and President Jason Lamoreaux gave his 2014 overall market picture (published in our March issue).
Representatives of Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Barstow, and Adelanto gave economic reports for their respective cities.

Victorville City Manager Doug Robertson talked about a yet-to-be announced large project to be built in the High Desert that could bring about 400 jobs to the area. He also announced construction of a new aircraft hanger at the logistics airport, repaving, traffic lights and road repair projects underway, and progress on the Green Tree Boulevard/Yates Road extension to the Yucca Loma Bridge from Apple Valley to Victorville.

Marketing and Public Affairs Officer Kathie Martin with the Town of Apple Valley said 60 percent of the Yucca Loma Bridge over the Mojave River is complete, with the first concrete poured, and completion by year end. With 130 housing starts, Apple Valley is in its third straight year of increases, the highest since 2007. Highway 18 and Apple Valley Road intersection realignment is also underway, and some vacant grocery store properties have been sold.
Hesperia Economic Development Management Analyst Lisa LaMere said the city is focused on finishing the Ranchero Road Corridor, and that 124 residential permits were pulled in 2014.

Interim city manager for Adelanto, Thomas Thornton, said the San Bernardino Associated Governments approved a $483 million expansion project of Highway 395, with $54 million being used in Adelanto to widen the highway, and add an additional lane in both directions with a median between Palmdale Road and Bartlett Roads.

Thornton said Adelanto completed its 2035 Plan Upgrade for the northeast side of the city and is working to expand its water treatment plant, which treats 4 million gallon of water daily. The city will continue to aggressively pursue new development and market the benefits of Adelanto to developers.

In February, Thornton told the Daily Press that he will work “triple-duty” as he retains the position of city engineer and director of public works while taking on the new job.

Gaither Loewenstein, Barstow’s economic development and planning manager, said the city’s capital improvement and infrastructure to do list includes the $31.5 million Lenwood Road Grade Separation project, which should be completed this summer, and construction of the $72 million First Street Bridge that is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Loewenstein said 17 linear miles of sewer lines have been repaired, 90 miles of local streets have been replaced or preserved, and $8 million in improvements have been made to the wastewater treatment plant.

John Ohanian, director of development for the Terra Verde Group, developer of the proposed Tapestry Project in Hesperia, told the group that it was nice to be in a place where he did not have to “dodge tomatoes” from an angry crowd.

Ohanian shared details on the 9,365-acre project, a 20-plus year development planned for Summit Valley. If approved as proposed, it is expected to break ground by 2020 and bring 19,311 homes and perhaps more than 60,000 new residents to Hesperia.

During a question-and-answer session, Ohanian addressed the issue of water availability, telling the crowd that water usage in every Tapestry home will be about 60 percent compared to the average home.

Ohanian said Tapestry’s water treatment facility will help preserve water usage, and every home will be dual-piped in order to utilize the use of reclaimed water. Craig Ryan, a project manager for Terra Vista, told the Daily Press in July that the Tapestry development is expected to use about 13,600 acre-feet of the available 24,800 acre-feet a year.

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