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Pardee Ramps Up Housing Projects

San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego's new-housing market, slowly recovering from the Great Recession, is not heading for boom times - and that's all right with Jimmy Ayala, president of the San Diego division of Pardee Homes.

"We're not in the eighth or ninth inning of this part of the game - we have room to grow," he said. "I think that's the positive side of it. I'm not sure people want to see a radical, V-shaped graph of housing, going the way it did (in the early 2000s)."

A "steady, sustainable climb" is the preferred trajectory, said the 46-year-old native San Diegan who took over the helm at Pardee this year, capping his 14-year career at the company.

Pardee, active in the county for many years, is busy in North County and South Bay, and expects to sell about 230 homes this year and up to 300 next year. It's unlikely it will ever return to its heyday of 500 per year - when the local staff was more than twice its present 60-person count. But Ayala doesn't close the door on a big buildup "if the economy starts going crazy."

"We will keep looking for opportunities and be optimistic, while keeping in mind that (economic) cycles don't last forever," he said.

Ayala sat down at Pardee's Canterra project in Pacific Highlands Ranch recently to assess the state of the housing market, Pardee's plans and what the next generation of homebuyers is looking for. Here are some highlights:

Q: Where does housing stand at the end of 2015 both nationally and locally?

A: There's some demand there, the market is recovering. There's job growth, which is fantastic. I think most other home builders around the country are wondering where their supply comes from. The prices are increasing with raw materials. Labor has been an issue nationwide as it has been locally.

Q: One of the big revelations after the Great Recession is whether millennials are reticent about buying homes at all.

A: I think the millennials are a big demographic, bigger than baby boomers in terms of population. They may not be interested in a home now. Ultimately as they evolve and grow and want to start a family, they'll start looking for schools, as well.
So I think it's a matter of time before the millennial (generation) gets itself into rentals, gets its student loans taken care of, saves a little bit of money and looks for something (to buy), it's going to be that traditional single-family, detached home. Maybe not. But we have an eye on them and we'll see what their trends are. We'll see what they're looking for. I think they will eventually evolve into wanting what is called the "American Dream."

Q: Let's talk about Pardee's strategy in the next few years.

A: With Pardee we've been known over the years for the master-planned community. We've been blessed with some very strategic land positions, going back to the Pardee brothers, to the 1980s. We're sitting here now (Pacific Highlands Ranch) that was purchased in the '80s and it took two citywide votes to get it built out.
Our strategy moving forward is to continue to provide housing in what we believe the market wants to live.

Q: But many think the age of the master-planned community is ending because we have no land for 100-, 500-, 1,000-acre projects.

A: They won't be that big. I can take you through some projects we have, like the Castlerock community, 415 home sites, abutting Santee. It's really a great location. We have another community in Fallbrook at the northeast corner of Interstate 15 and (state Route) 76. There we will have a school, park, 146 acres of open space, and we're integrating that community into a citrus and avocado ranch that's been there over the years: 844 home sites in that community from attached townhomes to small single-family attached to move-up premium single-family.

Q: Turning to design, you say you're taking inspiration from early 20th century architects like Irving Gill and Lilian Rice.

A: It's clearly the aesthetics, authentic architecture that's true to your region. It's the use of color, the tile, the natural terracotta, the stucco, that has a clean finish, architecture that is native but timeless. You can still see Irving Gill's style of houses that's lasted the test of time, the village in Rancho Santa Fe that Lilian Rice did - that's still beautiful and still timeless. That's what we want our homes to look like in 40 years from now, timeless, beautiful.

Q: That's the exterior. What about the interior floor plans?

A: I'm not sure we can emulate what they did. Our houses are different but well done. The floor plans will be open in content, the indoors with the outdoors, opening up the full width of walls with sliding windows, interacting with the outdoors. It could be an outdoor shower, bringing other things into the house from a design standpoint. It's going to be a modern twist of that.

Jimmy Ayala
President, Pardee Homes, San Diego division
Personal: Born Oct. 13, 1969, in National City, raised in Chula Vista; married, two daughters; residence, Kensington
Education: B.A. in urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona; MBA from San Diego State University
Career: Municipal government planning offices in Orange County; Southeastern Economic Development Corp.; Pardee Homes
Activities: Tennis; vacations annually at Holden Beach off the North Carolina coast
Pardee's active housing projects
State Route 56 Corridor: Alta Del Mar, Canterra, Casabella, Verana and Watermark at Pacific Highlands Ranch
Bonsall: Olive Hill
Otay Mesa: Parkview at Ocean View Hills (spring 2016)