Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Los Angeles County Attracts Another Renewable Energy Project As Antelope Valley and Agricultural Land Benefit with the Development

Another Solar company is taking up roots in Antelope Valley. Tuusso Energy headquartered in Seattle Washington with a medium size project, which can power up to 15 thousand homes and connects directly to existing transmission lines. The proposed location is on LA County land and it is a rectangle shaped area at 100th Street West running north to south from Ave H to approximately Ave I-8. This area is just south of the community of Antelope Acres, and it is just north of Edison power lines that cris-cross the western valley. Their technology uses photovoltaic panels which look very similar to rooftop panels. The benefits with photovoltaic’s are that they use a limited amount of water and they are low profile as they stand just a few feet above the ground.

Tuusso’s project proposal has been underway for a year and they are currently conducting environmental studies with Los Angeles County and local government agencies. As part of the environmental impact, they have targeted dormant agricultural land away from any current major development. It is not known if this land has been previously disturbed land, or simply vacant agricultural land. The environmental impact may be the biggest hurdle to overcome as the State and local governments are favorable to renewable energy projects, but environmentalists prefer limited change. The production is expected to begin later this year and run through early 2011. Lancaster Ca. has proposed a number of zoning changes within the city limits to entice alternative energy projects within its boundaries, so many more projects are sure to arise.

This is the fourth and separately planned renewable energy project on LA County land in the Antelope Valley. It is sure to change the landscape dramatically, but change for the valley will be good for the economy and community. The agricultural land targeted is a big bonanza for the long-term land banker. This area was vacant land for decades caught between power lines, and a pocket of custom homes. It further highlights that agricultural zoned pre-developed land provides a great investment opportunity. These Solar Companies are capturing lower real estate prices during this downturn, and it is a good time for new investors to take advantage of this land banking opportunity also.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The City of Lancaster California is Proposing Land Development Changes to Establish Three Separate Mixed Use Zones

The City of Lancaster, Ca. Planning Department is forwarding new recommendations in conjunction with their 2030 General Plan. The focal point of their recent meeting is to draft new zoning changes for the city, and to incorporate several mixed use proposals. The City of Lancaster, Ca. currently doesn’t have mixed use development, while cohabitating residential and commercial zoning has been implemented in numerous cities across America. A typical mixed use would be street level retail shops on main roads with single family or multiple family dwellings above. Most of Lancaster Ca. has been single family dwellings in proximity to commercial buildings. It has been a typical small town growing without the future planning of the needs of the community. It’s a sort of plan as you grow, instead of planning growth. The mixed use proposal will make Lancaster look more like Orange County’s growth and development, which has been the new normal.

The three proposed mixed use zonings will be Mixed Use-Neighborhood (MU-N), Mixed Use-Commercial (MU-C), and Mixed Use-Employment (MU-E). The mixed use neighborhood zone would incorporate residential housing in close proximity to commercial, offices and services. It would include multi-family housing, such as apartments and condominiums, small-lot single-family subdivisions, and smaller commercial and office space. The streets patterns would allow better traffic flow, and it would offer pedestrian connections, community space with trails and neighborhood parks.

The mixed use commercial would integrate residential and commercial space together. The commercial space would most likely be along major artery streets, with modern landscaping. It will also have multi-storied buildings which must contribute to the areas surroundings. The third zoning change proposal is mixed use employment. This zone is intended to provide an area for non-retail employment in close proximity to residential housing. It would likely include multi-family residential dwellings with office professional, business parks, and some light industrial uses. This zone is not intended for heavier industrial uses.

The two major target areas for this new zoning will be south of Ave H from 20th to 40th Street West, and also along Sierra Hwy and Division south of Ave I. As the city grows so does the opportunity for land investors. We think this is a very positive step toward the future for land buyers in Antelope Valley. Most of these areas are currently vacant land parcels, but it will be a future location for a developer. Many large chain stores wish to locate their business near residential neighborhoods as it has been part of their business model. Land prices today are far less then they were just three years ago, so this is a good time to look at vacant land deals in Antelope Valley.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Los Angeles County Lands Best Renewable Sustainable Project with a Patented Solar Complex built on Pre-Developed Industrial Land

Power Engineering magazine announced this past December the selection of E-Solar’s Sierra SunTower facility as the winner of "Best Renewable and Sustainable Project" at the 2009 Projects of the Year Awards. This is an annual award where Power Engineering magazine recognizes the world's best projects in the four major categories, gas-fired, coal-fired, nuclear and renewable. The new solar power facility is the first of its kind in California.

E-Solar unveiled Sierra SunTower, which is their 5 MW commercial-scale solar power plant, in August 2009. It is located just 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles in Lancaster California. The solar complex runs along Avenue G in the northern part of the city. This renewable energy facility captures the suns energy to produce super-heated steam with an average operating temperature of 800°F at a pressure of 900 psi, which it delivers through a turbine generator to Southern California Edison. Their patented technology uses Pre-fabricated modular units that are scalable to fit smaller or larger parcels of land to suit their power client’s requirements. This project was developed on a small parcel of land close to existing transmission lines, and it is the first of several planned in Antelope Valley, California.

This is one part of the City of Lancaster’s 2030 General Plan to create fertile ground for renewable energy projects. The planning department has approved of thousands of additional acres of heavy and light industrial land as a target area for these types of projects. They plan to further expand this area by amending the zoning to absorb rural residential and agricultural zoned land for heavy industrial use. This would be the largest expansion of Los Angeles County land into city zoning in decades. It is also one of the best means for a land investor to get a rapid return on their investment.

It is paramount for land investors and land bankers to buy land near developing areas such as Lancaster and Palmdale California. The closer you are to development the more likely development will reach your parcel. In many cases the initial investment can be more, but the return on investment could be shorter term. We have spoken to vacant land owners who purchased remote desert land far from development and they are unfortunately still holding decades after their initial investment. Don’t let it happen to you, as the real estate slogan goes location, location, location also applies to pre-developed land.