A decade ago, many in real estate circles scoffed at the notion that a significant portion of Southern California largest, most historic and environmentally sensitive tracts of open space could fall under the bulldozer for homes, resorts and distribution facilities.
For over a half century, environmentalists, state officials and the courts wrangled with the longtime owner of the 270,000 acres in Kern County and northern Los Angeles County comprising Tejon Ranch. Conservationists say the land, a throwback to the era of Mexican ranchos, is home to the California condor and at least two dozen other endangered or threatened species.
However, Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC), the publicly traded real estate development and agribusiness company that owns the land, in May reached a landmark deal with a coalition of groups to preserve 90% of the ranch land 60 miles north of Los Angeles. In exchange, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon California and other groups agreed not to oppose existing industrial projects and proposed development along Interstate 5, including the 1,400-acre Tejon Industrial Complex, the proposed Tejon Mountain Village resort and Centennial, a planned residential community of 23,000 homes.