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SAN CLEMENTE, CA-Craig Realty Group of Newport Beach has closed on its acquisition of the 51-acre development site for the planned 650,000-sf Plaza San Clemente center at the 248-acre Marblehead Development. The Craig Group acquired the property from the Woodland Hills-based SunCal Cos., which is developing the residential portion of the project.

Terms of the development site sale were not disclosed. The retail center is estimated to be a $65-million project, based upon development costs of approximately $100 per sf.

Steven Craig, president and CEO of Craig Realty Group, says the closing culminates a 12-year effort by his company in conjunction with Joseph L. Seitz of SDC Partners Ltd. The two firms have been working on retail development plans for the site since 1994.

Grading has already begun on the 51-acre site, which is fully entitled, where the stores are slated to open in the fall of 2008. The retail site was entitled together with Marblehead Coastal, a 313-home residential project that is being developed by SunCal Cos.

Craig Realty Group, which specializes in upscale factory outlet centers, owns outlets throughout the US and has others under development. Its projects also include an upscale designer outlet center in Brescia, Italy called Franciacorta Outlet Village located 50 miles east of Milan.

The retail and residential portions of the Marblehead site won approval from the California Coastal Commission last month after what SunCal described as 33 years of planning and hearings regarding the site. The City of San Clemente, which was also involved in the approval process, describes the Marblehead Coastal project as “one of the last and certainly one of the most important ocean front developments in Orange County.”

The 248-acre site is on the west side of the I-5 Freeway between Avenida Pico and the proposed extension of Avenida Vista Hermosa. The Coastal Commission granted preliminary approval for the project in February 2005, after which SunCal began grading at the site but held off additional construction while waiting for final approval.

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