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American Assets continues to invest in city

SOLANA BEACH — In what has been called one of the largest recent coastal commercial land transactions, American Assets Trust earlier this month purchased a 1.76-acre lot on the corner of South Coast Highway 101 and Dahlia Drive for $6.85 million.
The site currently includes a former mobile home park, a duplex and two commercial buildings. Broker Steve Bruce of Carlsbad-based Lee & Associates, who represented both buyer and seller in the off-market deal, said American Assets is planning a mixed-use development for the site.
Bruce said he had been tracking the property for a while but was not hired to market it. When the owner, the private Maganda Corporation, came to a fair price, Bruce said he contacted American Assets and a few other companies.
“American Assets was the first to the table and it was the logical choice,” he said. “I knew it would be a great fit.”
American Assets currently owns and manages Lomas Santa Fe Plaza and Solana Beach Towne Center.
Bruce said Maganda bought the site in 2003 for $3.4 million.
It is not the former mobile home park associated with the Perl settlement. In the 1990s the city took action that closed a mobile home park about 1,000 feet away from this site.
Affordable housing advocates threatened litigation, claiming low-income units had been eliminated. Rather than go to trial, the city entered into what is now known as the Perl settlement which, among other things, mandated the replacement of 13 affordable units.
There has been no discussion with American Assets about including affordable housing but the city has implemented a set-aside fee for such units with new developments, Councilman Dave Roberts said.
Before any construction begins, American Assets must first hire an architect to design a project and then complete all the required approval and permitting steps.
“I am so pleased to see another successful developer, who understands and has already invested substantially within the city of Solana Beach at our two shopping centers on Lomas Santa Fe, now invest even more resources into our seaside community,” Roberts said.
American Assets also received approval in 2008 to construct an approximately 13,000-square-foot retail and office building and parking structure at the southeast corner of Stevens Avenue and San Rodolfo Drive.
A one-year extension was granted in 2010 after American Assets cited poor economic conditions leading to a lack of tenant demand. The company was scheduled to request another extension at the Oct. 12 council meeting.
In March the city granted a similar extension for the same reason to transform Lomas Santa Fe Plaza into a lifestyles center that will feature high-end shops, pedestrian amenities such as outdoor seating, public art, plaza areas, and a two-level underground parking structure.
John Chamberlain of American Assets was out of town and unavailable for comment. A company representative said a formal announcement with more details is expected to be released on or around Nov. 9.