Old Town Tustin: Prospect Village… inspiring or foolish?

old-town-tustin.jpgThere’s a lot of discussion about the plans for Prospect Village for Old Town Tustin, housing/retail development built where the old Utt Juice Co. building was. Last week, the OC Register’s Elysse James wrote an article (“Prsopect Village fits, developer hopes“) which highlighted the new development and the ensuing controversy.

According to RPP Architects, the mixed-use development “provides housing, office, and retail development in Old Town along Prospect Avenue. The development is set to include 12 three-story town homes with retail and office space on the first floor, and two levels of residence on the top floors. A 9,000 Sq. Ft., two-story commercial building is being proposed on an adjacent parcel.” While it sounds all cool and hip, much of the opposition is pointed toward the size and the scale of the development. People are worried that it’ll dwarf the other historic buildings nearby.

I’d be more concerned with the price and the developer’s ability to sell these units. James covered some of this concern in her article, such as including Tustin resident Sharon Spiak’s comment, “I think it’s a little expensive in today’s market.” And with prices starting at the mid-$800k’s, I have to agree!

I feel like I’ve got déjà vu. Almost a year ago, I posted on those new live-work-play lofts in Santa Ana. There was a lot of hype about them… a great place for people to have work space and residential space all in one. Not to sound like the constant critic, but I wasn’t so sure. They seemed pricey ($700k-$800k) at the time. And now they’re down to the $600k’s.

It’s great to be able to go downstairs to work, but for $800k, wouldn’t you rather live a few miles up the road in North Tustin? I know I would pick these places (12521 Barrett Ln for $675k, 18092 Allegheny Dr for $800k, or 12972 Wheeler Pl for $800k) over a mixed-use home… of course, I don’t run a business out of my home, though.

The other thing that the developers are counting on is that homeowners will view these properties as income property. As James’ article mentions, “Developer John H. Tillotson Jr. likened the live-work aspect to the duplexes of days gone by. People would live in one and rent out the other, said Tillotson, co-owner of Pelican Properties.” So, rather than renting out a residential unit attached to your house, you’d rent out retail space. Good idea in theory, but not so sure it’ll be attractive to real buyers.

Quick facts on Prospect Village from James’s article:

  • Prices start at mid-$800,000
  • Homeowner association fees are $155 a month
  • Property tax rate of 1.1 percent.
  • Homes include granite countertops, recessed panel cabinets, stainless steel appliances, crown moldings, Kohler sinks, tubs and toilets, high-speed Internet wiring, energy efficient appliances.
  • Two-car garages with gated access. Public parking lot across Prospect Avenue.
  • The city approved special zoning to allow homes and commercial space in the same lots. Info: 714-550-4411.