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CISNEROS, BUILDER TO DEVELOP NEW HOMES AVERAGE-INCOME FOLKS THE MARKET.

Byline: Gregory J. Wilcox Staff Writer

Hoping to tap a well of urban pioneer spirit, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and Westwood-based Kaufman and Broad Home Corp. on Monday formed a joint venture to build new homes close to the core of some metropolitan areas.

The new venture, called American CityVista, will focus on infill projects of homes that will be affordable to average-income families. And the San Fernando Valley will likely be a key market.

``We will look at places like Reseda, San Fernando, Pacoima, East Los Angeles, San Pedro and Long Beach,'' Cisneros said.

Cisneros, 53, resigned as president and chief operating officer of Los Angeles-based Univision Communications, parent company of the nation's top Spanish-language television network, to concentrate on the new venture. He served as HUD's chief during President Clinton's first term and was a four-term mayor of San Antonio, where the new company will be based. It will also have a Los Angeles office and Cisneros will have a seat on Kaufman and Broad's board.

American CityVista will be jointly financed by the home builder and Cisneros.

The company will select sites and plan the tracts as well as buy the land and build the homes.

It should be in operation by September and will look for building sites in 28 communities in California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. The majority are in California.

Infill development is commonplace now in many sections of the Valley.

But Cisneros said the new venture has a broad vision.

``One of the differences here is the scale we're talking about. We're trying to get (projects) of really substantial scale so we can effectively create villages within the city, a critical mass of citizens that can fight for good schools,'' he said.

The housing will not be subsidized.

Cisneros acknowledges that it may be easier to build this kind of housing in other states.

``Look, this is not going to be easy,'' he said. ``This is a difficult challenge. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The sites to be developed on tend to be on the tougher side and there are delays built into the entitlement process.

``Nationally, there is great momentum for new development in central cities, and city leaders recognize that large-scale homeownership provides community stability,'' Cisneros said.

Los Angeles alone has a thirst for this type of housing: There is a shortage of about 200,000 housing units across the county, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

``I think there is a big market,'' said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the nonprofit group. ``There is just a real shortage of affordable housing around the area. This looks like a very interesting venture and I think people will probably be surprised at the results they have.''

Other California areas the company is eyeing include Riverside/San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Anaheim, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Modesto and Stockton.

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Photo: Henry Cisneros

Enters new venture
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 8, 2000
Words:492
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