■ By BRANDON RICHARDSON Long Beach Business Journal O ver the last three decades, Seal Beach-based developer The Olson Company has produced more than 11,500 for-sale residential units in the urban areas of more than 80 cities, most of which are located in Southern California. “I think what really separates us from our competition is that we are true in-fill devel- opers and we do our best to enhance neigh- borhoods within existing, mature communities,” Scott Laurie, President and Chief Executive Officer of Olson, said. “What we’re doing is coming in and developing overlooked parcels, or re-entitling or rezon- ing sites to add value to existing neighbor- hoods and to be part of that fabric.” Ranging between the high $300,000s to the high $700,000s, Laurie said the homes may not seem affordable to some when com- pared to other parts of the United States and California. However, with the company’s pri- mary markets being the San Gabriel Valley, North Orange County and the South Bay, he explained that this price range is on the more-affordable end of the spectrum. According to Laurie, Olson tries to focus de- velopment in cities where jobs are being cre- ated, which generates a higher demand for housing. He explained that many of these cities have not seen significant amounts of new residential for-sale con- struction in years, sometimes decades. Diversity in their housing communities is important to the company, Laurie said, citing the fact that project size varies greatly – ranging anywhere from 15 to 120 units per development. “There are a lot of overlooked parcels in urban markets and every single one is different. They have diverse challenges that provide significant op- portunities and require very different solutions,” Laurie said. “That’s part of the diversity and that is the expertise of this company – we are able to develop solutions and we create tremendous value to the cities that we build in and to the existing neighborhoods. Every project is different.” Most of the communities built by Olson do not require major infrastruc- ture, according to Laurie. He said that, because the company focuses on infill projects, infrastructure is primarily in place, which also allows the company to keep construction costs moderate. In addition to infrastruc- ture, Laurie said already-existing retail, parks and transit are crucial to the walkability and lifestyle for the company’s target resident. Nearly all of Olson’s development names in- clude the word “walk,” such as Tapestry Walk in Anaheim. Laurie said the idea behind the company’s developments is for residents to be able to exit their front doors and be within walking distance to restaurants, entertain- ment, schools and even work. He explained that this community engagement and integra- tion is just as important to Olson as the phys- ical homes they build. Laurie said Olson currently has around 30 projects of various scales in Southern Cali- fornia that are either being entitled, devel- oped or under construction. Several upcoming deals are in the city of Los Ange- les. He explained that the projects would be very urban in nature, which is forcing Olson to start taking a closer look at parking needs when it comes to density in transit-oriented areas as transit demands evolve. The developer has some new designs in the works that relate more to the company’s largest buyer demographic – Millennials. He said that with the oldest Millennials entering their late 30s, many are buying homes and starting families. “We provide the type of floor plan that they want to purchase but we continue to learn from them and learn from technology. People live a very fast-paced life today and there’s a lot of activity that goes on,” Laurie said. “What we found from our buyers, one thing they all have in common, is that they like to entertain and they like to spend time with their friends and families.” Laurie explained that, aside from wanting to be within walking distance of community amenities, the Olson demographic of homebuyers does not want to spend nights and weekends caring for a 2,800-square-foot de- tached home on a 7,000-square-foot lot – gardening, repairs and other home maintenance. Instead, younger buyers would rather own a 1,500- square-foot townhome they could enjoy, while a low homeowners associ- ation fee covers landscaping, exterior paint and some other property maintenance costs. As California continues to be a leader when it comes to environmental issues, including energy efficiency and green technology, Olson works to fall in line with the state’s future goals. Laurie explained that a majority of the company’s com- munities have been certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED certification. 10 A Discussion With Olson Company President & CEO Scott Laurie Thoughtful Development Drives Housing Diversity And Builds Communities “We provide the type of floor plan that they (Millennials) want to purchase but we continue to learn from them and learn from technology.” Scott Laurie, President & CEO The Olson Company 2017_18Pages_OlsonCopy_PortAnniversary 12/28/17 5:14 PM Page 10