New Office Building Planned for Victorville, Calif.

Mar. 14--VICTORVILLE -- A developer is getting ready to break ground on a two-story office building near the Civic Center to duplicate -- and refine -- a concept he tested on Bear Valley Road.

The project, slated for office condos, marks the arrival of a relatively new concept to Victorville, since most commercial buildings in the High Desert contain office space for lease, says Rob Kurth of Lee & Associates, who is brokering the sale.

The 20,000 square feet of high-end office space at Cajon Avenue and Civic Center Drive will be divided into eight suites of 2,500 square feet each, says Jose Luis Andreu, a San Diego builder who is targeting engineers, real estate companies, attorneys and doctors.

Andreu, managing member of Civic Center Investors LLC, says he tried out the concept at Ridgecrest Business Park near Bear Valley Road.

"I saw a big void in the area," Andreu said. "Usually when you see small business owners, they always want to own their own space, but all you have are large buildings that are not conducive to smaller operations. I decided to make it into a condo and see if my hunch was correct."

It was.

The 25 commercial suites at Ridgecrest sold in 45 days, says Kurth, while the remaining 55 industrial segments sold quickly as well, to companies involved in warehousing, distribution, contracting and light manufacturing.

Office space is in high demand, says Susan Bloomfield, marketing and research director at the Bradco Companies, which keeps data on available commercial real estate.

With a total of 4 million square feet of office space in the High Desert submarket, about 7 percent is available for lease, Bloomfield said. But she says that number is shrinking, and what's left is not the kind of space that is in demand. Most of it, she says, is what's known in the industry as class C.

John Husing, an economist and author of the Inland Empire Quarterly Economic Report, says the office market in the High Desert is in its infancy. At this point, office users are directly related to serving the population that has moved here, he said. It will take much longer for companies unrelated to professional services to be gin using of fice space, he said.

Andreu says he hopes to duplicate the office concept again. For the Civic Center Drive project, he expects to receive the building permit from the city on Monday, and will break ground sometime in April. He has not yet set a sale price on the units.