• Limoneira to develop $1 billion project in Ventura County
  • Developer to work with Lewis Group for Santa Paula Gateway

Limoneira Co., a citrus and avocado-farming company, is developing a $1 billion project for 1,500 homes in a supply-constrained area north of Los Angeles.

The Santa Paula Gateway project is expected over 10 years to provide at least 25 percent of the new homes in Ventura County, where new non-agricultural developments require voter approval, according to Limoneira Chief Executive Officer Harold Edwards. The company won approval in 2008 and on Wednesday announced an agreement with Lewis Group of Cos. to proceed with building.

“Ventura County is one of the toughest places to do development,” said Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Lewis Group, a closely held developer based in Upland, California. “There’s high demand and very limited supply.”

The project is the largest ever for Limoneira, which was founded in 1893 and built much of the present-day city of Santa Paula, said Edwards, whose company owns 10,700 acres (4,330 hectares) of agricultural land in California and Arizona. The residential development will use about the same amount of water per acre as the lemon and avocado orchards that currently occupy the site, he said.

“The investment thesis of our company is to redeploy that capital back into the expansion of our agricultural business,” Edwards said. “The balance of the real estate development opportunities for us are here in Ventura County, but we will not be expanding our agricultural presence in Ventura County.”

The Santa Paula Gateway homes will sell for $350,000 to $700,000, he said. The median home price in Ventura County was $510,000 in July, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, according to CoreLogic Inc.

The project, which also includes 650,000 square feet (60,400 square meters) of commercial and light industrial space, is expected to produce $100 million in net cash flow for Lewis and Limoneira, Edwards said. Lot sales will start as soon as the fourth quarter of 2017.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE