Ted Lennon landed in the desert in 1974 with Lowe Enterprises, one of the country’s largest real estate companies, as general manager and real estate developer/broker of Shadow Mountain Resort & Racquet Club. After three years there, he structured development deals for two landmark retail projects: Desert Crossing Shopping Center and The Gardens on El Paseo. His first luxury residential project was The Vintage Club. Then it was on to The Reserve, with Lowe as lead developer and Lennon at the helm. “That was my crowning glory,” he says.
Lowe built 245 residences on 700 acres and the first Old World-style clubhouse. “With The Reserve, my goal was to create a special place with the environment where grandchildren would want to come and visit,” Lennon says. He still manages resales and serves as senior vice president of Lowe Development Corp. and Lowe Destination Development Inc.
Lennon also remains a consultant to Stone Eagle Golf Club and is responsible for Lowe Enterprises’ $200 million resort real estate portfolio. That includes Terranea Resort in Palos Verde, where he is senior vice president of Long Point Development, the Lowe subsidiary handling residential development at the property.
Located on 100 acres, Terranea features 102 turnkey oceanfront bungalows, casitas, and villas starting at $1.3 million (www.terranea.com).
Palm Springs Life spoke with Lennon about life outside the desert and his thoughts on what true luxury living means today.
Describe what you are doing at Terranea.
Terranea is the evolution of the perfect second home. Everything was completed in the summer of 2009. I have been there a little over a year. I oversee the sales and marketing and work directly with contracted buyers. That includes all the ongoing real estate responsibilities that go with it. I am head of all development there. It’s an ocean getaway in Los Angeles in a one-of-a kind location in a top-rated resort, where homeowners enjoy all the amenities the resort offers. A lot of our buyers are high-income couples from Pasadena and Beverly Hills who want that luxury minus the hassles of upkeep and driving long distances.
How does Terranea compare to The Reserve in terms of prestige?
They are two distinctly different lifestyles at different price points. At The Reserve, you have homes that sell for up to $20 million. It is very private. Terranea is within a four-star, four-diamond resort that is open to the public. Prices are lower than at The Reserve.
Why did you leave the desert?
All the new development opportunities dried up. Lowe had Terranea going, and it was a good fit for me. Luxury development, whether at the ocean or in the desert, has the same basic principles. It’s all about giving buyers a superior, unique living experience.
Where do you see the luxury residential market in the desert today compared to other Southern California areas?
I think Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Bel Air are making a faster comeback than the desert, because they are in key, irreplaceable locations. The desert still has land with projects in the pipeline that stopped. I do think that everyone is getting tired of being frugal; and they’re ready to spend when it makes sense, even at the million [-dollar] and above range. I would say that the desert market is still soft, with a slight upswing. The desert remains overbuilt in high-end golf communities. Those units that were well designed, don’t become outdated, and offer great views will sell. Overall, the desert has great long-range potential. I see some excellent values where the prices are back to the 2002 range.
How has the luxury market changed in general as to what people want today?
People are looking for value. They want affordable luxury. Today, with luxury properties more than ever, buyers want to feel like they are getting something special. People are looking at the ocean as the No. 1 outside amenity. A close second are ski areas and the desert. They want to live in developments that are hassle-free as far as maintenance goes. They want the option of room service. The true key to luxury living today is having your time free and not having to run a large home managing a staff. We are also getting back to true luxury and taste with properties that are in a great location and stand out architecturally. “Luxury” has become such an overused word. Just because a house is 10,000 square feet doesn’t automatically mean luxury living.