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A new home for Newhall Land

Developer makes move to smaller headquarters

Posted: January 28, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: January 29, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Jose Vasquez, left, and Ismael Figueroa help each other as they wrap plans during packing Wednesday at the Newhall Land & Farming offices. Movers will collect boxes and transfer them to Newhall Land's new facility this Friday.

 
After almost 35 years, the Newhall Land and Farming Company is packing up its Valencia Boulevard headquarters and moving.

Today, the longtime local developer, which built Valencia, is setting up shop in its new offices off Tourney Road.

At about 24,000 square feet, the new third-floor offices at 25124 Springfield Court are about half the size of the 47,000-square-foot building designed by architect Gin Wong in the early 1970s.

On Wednesday, the long, skylit atrium of the two-story Civic Center-area building was a jungle of moving boxes, file cabinets and decorative plants.

"This is a great building," said Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer, who's been with the company about 20 years. "But it's not as efficient as it could be for our business."

Indeed, while the Valencia Boulevard building was once abuzz with about 150 people, Lauffer said in recent years only about 45 employees have worked out of the building.

The building is owned by LNR, a spinoff of Lennar Corp., which bought Newhall Land in 2004. Lauffer said she is unsure what LNR plans to do with the building.

LNR officials could not be reached Thursday.

The building is designed with a central, front-to-back atrium with offices on either side. Lauffer said, by design, the building could be re-purposed to serve several businesses, rather than only one tenant.

In recent years, there was discussion about tying the Newhall Land building into an expanded Civic Center complex, Santa Clarita city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said. Those conversations, however, remained at the staff level.

"It never crystallized past that," she said Thursday. "The funding mechanism that would be required ... really isn't there."

The building is next to the county-owned Santa Clarita Valley Civic Center, home to the SCV Sheriff's Station - which officials have said is in dire need of expansion - the Valencia Library and the Santa Clarita Superior Court.

Built in 1974, the Newhall Land building survived the 1994 Northridge Earthquake; Lauffer said structural retro-fitting had been performed shortly before the quake struck.

She said the 6.8 magnitude temblor inflicted no structural damage.

Lauffer said the past several months have been busy with packing, going through "miles of files" and scanning myriad old documents and brochures.

"The scanners have been working overtime," she said.

While it's bittersweet to move out of the building in which she's worked for two decades, Lauffer said she's excited about the company's move into a fresh facility.

Newhall Land is making its move less than a year after its owner emerged from reorganization after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

LandSource - owner of Newhall Land - filed for Chapter 11 protection in June 2008. At the time, the company received debtor-in-possession financing of $1.185 billion from a group of lenders led by Barclay's Bank.

LandSource emerged from reorganization last summer as Newhall Land Development, with Lennar Corp. as a 15-percent owner.

With the Valencia-sized Newhall Ranch community yet to be built, Newhall Land has plenty of work to do in the coming 15 to 20 years, Lauffer said, and added: "We have a real bright future."

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