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SANTA CRUZ, CA-This coastal city’s largest remaining tract of vacant industrial zoned land has changed hands for $11 million. An affiliate of the locally based timber company Redtree properties acquired a 20-acre parcel and a three-acre parcel flanking a former Lipton Tea Plant here from Conopo Inc. (dba Unilever Foods Americas).

The buyer’s broker, Jim Wiseman of Sheldon Wiseman Commercial Real Estate, tells GlobeSt.com that the Redtree affiliate will create building-ready lots, some of which it will develop and some it will sell off. It is thought that the market mostly will be commercial condos for local businesses. While the necessary approvals are still 18 months off, Wiseman says the development will include light industrial, R&D and some retail space, he says.

“This will be developed strictly within the existing zoning, so I don’t anticipate a huge amount of opposition,” says Wiseman. “They’ll be no Home Depot, no residential stuff.”

The seller’s broker, Ernest Pearson, president of Lee & Associates-Central Valley Inc., tells GlobeSt.com that Lipton Tea bought the land along with the land for its plans more than 20 years ago because the mild maritime climate had a humidity level and average temperature ideal for making tea bags. Unilever eventually acquired Lipton and closed the plant three years ago. Just prior to closing the plant, Lipton sold the plant to Barry Swenson Builders of San Jose and leased it back through September of this year.

Lipton at some point vacated the plant but subleased a portion of it to Harmony Foods. The excess acreage on either side of the plant was listed in March.

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