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IRVINE, CA-Developer Trammell Crow says it will build the first two high-rise residential towers in the history of this Orange County city, marking another milestone in the community’s transition from a sleepy suburb just a few decades ago to one of the West Coast’s most cosmopolitan areas.

The pair of 15-story towers will rise inside Park Place, the sprawling campus-style commercial project on the western side of the San Diego (405) Freeway at Jamboree Road. All of the nearly 2 million sf in the complex today is dedicated to office and retail use.

Dallas-based Trammell Crow currently plans on renting out the 360 housing units, says managing director William Lane. But the company could eventually decide to offer them as for-sale condominiums if market conditions change or simply sell the parcel it owns to another multifamily developer, Lane says.

On paper, at least, it would seem that any type of residential development in the area would be a success. Apartment vacancy rates across Orange County have hovered in the 3%-range for the past few years and rents have soared, according to a recent report by Marcus & Millichap, as construction has failed to keep up with the area’s growing workforce.

Meantime, OC condominium sales have jumped because even many of the region’s white-collar workers cannot afford the $360,080 that the California Association of Realtors says it costs to buy a median-priced single-family house in the area. Condo sales and prices are running more than 10% ahead of last year, CAR reports, despite the fact that Orange County hasn’t been immune to the economic slowdown that has gripped the nation.

The Park Place complex where Trammell Crow wants to build the housing is perhaps the best-known commercial development in Irvine. One of its signature buildings, a block-long structure sheathed in reflective blue glass, is a familiar site to motorists who pass by the Jamboree exit of the San Diego Freeway.

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