‘Uncertainty’ surrounds 2014 housing market

New Urban Land Institute chairman offers neutral debate forum

Roger Showley • UT



Arterro, a La Costa project by Davidson Communities, is one of the newest housing developments to open in the county this year.

Housing, which zoomed up 18.4 percent in price last year, faces “uncertain” prospects this year, according to Tim Sullivan, newly named local chairman of the Urban Land Institute.

Sullivan, a real estate industry consultant, said last year’s housing market was one of “exuberance.”

“Now I’d characterize the 2014 outlook as one of optimism but still with a level of uncertainty,” Sullivan said, “because we had such a nutty 2012 and ’13 with home prices moving up quickly and a little bit of land selling — maybe a three-year period of exuberance jammed into one. The market is now reeling again and there’s concern and uncertainty.”

His outlook, offered up during an interview with the U-T on Monday, was brightened somewhat by the firming up of occupancy rates for retail, office and industrial space and rental rates rising enough to justify some new construction, particularly for build-to-suit projects.

Timsullivan“From a residential side, it’s very solid — prices are up — but now we have a concern, after a year of affordability,” he said. “We can’t win for losing and we can’t lose for winning.”

The local 500-member San Diego-Tijuana district council, one of 55 internationally maintained by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, is enlarging its scope beyond the usual San Diego city-centric set of issues.

Mary Lydon, the local executive director, said 15 local ULI members will participate on a two-day technical advisory panel next month on development ideas surrounding a new convention center complex north of downtown Rosarito Beach.”

All the land around it is vacant,” she said, and the property owner wants advice on how it should be developed to take advantage of the expected growth in convention business.

With San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer scheduled to become mayor Monday, Lydon said ULI stands ready to help improve local land-use policies — from promoting environmental sustainability to working out the future of Civic San Diego, the city’s nonprofit that oversees downtown and arranges public-private partnership deals in other neighborhoods.

Another focus will be promoting zero-net-energy developments, as is ULI’s role in closing the gap between developers and not-in-my-backyard project opponents.

“The days of having money overpowering the little guy or having political connections that circumvent requirements — that window has closed or is so narrow that it’s not even a concept,” Sullivan said. “It’s getting to a point where all parties have to be accountable and participate.”

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