Call it the longest wave ever ridden: the 13 for-sale condominiums atop Working Artists Ventura, the low-income housing project for artists commonly referred to as the WAV, waiting for the right buyer in an undulating housing market for years.
Now, the units have sold: Two condos were sold to different individuals for around $450,000 each and the rest for a total of approximately $4 million in a bulk sale. The purchase was made by the Jonker family, who also own the local Toppers Pizza chain, in collaboration with the Becker Group who will manage the property.. The WAV also has 54 affordable units for artists and 15 for formerly homeless or low-income families, known as SHORE, run by Project Understanding.
The $61 million WAV went online in 2010, with the city of Ventura investing $1 million, as well as leasing the land for $1 over a 55-year period and deferring fees such as those to offset the increase in traffic.
Jeffrey Lambert, community development director with the city, says that the city will receive a portion of its invested money returned with this sale.
“When the project was originally approved, the fees paid for traffic impact fees or park fees, we deferred that payment until the sale of the units,” said Lambert. “We’ll get that fee paid back as part of the sale.”
Lambert adds that the city “won’t get all of it yet,” including redevelopment loan and money borrowed from the public art fund to the tune of $1 million. In all, the city will recover $331,000 in deferred impact fees and $180,000 will be returned to the public art fund. The rest, says Lambert, “will come over time.”
Sid White, former economic development manager of the city, was fundamental in the creation of the WAV. White says that the investment was more than worth it for the city and the area.
“This is my proudest project, the best one I’ve done,” said White. “It took so many things, wrapped them up into a package and solved, or at least attempted to address, some of the social issues and economic development issues in town.”
Of note, White says that the city was never at risk of losing money on the project, something that the sale of the condos confirms, he says. The money from the sale will go to the developer, who will use it to repay the city. Though the money from the sale is not enough to cover the loan, annual taxes set aside are set to repay the full loan obligations.
“The deal was set up from day 1 to provide risk protection and risk management,” said White.
Chris Velasco, president and executive director of PLACE (Projects Linking Art, Community and Environment), which developed the property, did not reply to inquiries before deadline. WAV property management, John Stewart Company, which helped to negotiate the sale, also did not respond before deadline.
UPDATE., 8/1, 4:20 p.m.: Jack Gardner, President of the John Stewart Company, says that he is “really pleased” with the deal. “I think the Jonkers are a good match, I was really pleased to reach a deal with them.” Gardner says that the Jonker/Becker collaboration may target the student population for potential renters, which he says would be a “fabulous fit for the WAV population.”