Driver’s Seat: The DBS Superleggera Volante, the fastest convertible yet from Britain’s bespoke sportscar maker

And now, it’s time for the latest installment in an occasional series I am tentatively calling “Luxury Home in Suburban Middle America or New Car?”

Fine. The series title could use some work. But the premise is solid. Basically, we feature a new luxury or exotic vehicle that costs about as much as – you guessed it! – a luxury home somewhere in suburban America.

This month’s head-to-head pits a charming 4-bed, 3.5-bath Colonial-style stunner in Poland, Ohio listed at $329,900 against the no-less-stunning Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante convertible, which is comparably priced to move at $329,100.

The former is a spacious 4,036-square-foot in desirable Canterbury Creek. It features masters on both floors, cherry cabinets in the kitchen, maple flooring throughout and a back deck overlooking some undisturbed nature. Not. Too. Shabby.

The latter is only the fastest convertible model in the history of bespoke British sportscar maker Aston Martin. It is powered by the company’s own twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter V12 engine making a bonkers 715 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to rocket this ragtop from zero to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 211 mph.

We mentioned that the home in Ohio has cherry cabinets, right? OK, just checking.

Anywho, back to the Aston. In terms of style, the company has done a masterful job of updating its class-leading exterior styling to integrate some serious aggression without sacrificing elegance. Highlights include the gaping front grille and the nifty “curlicue” air vents behind the front wheels.

The sleek roofline as seen on the hardtop Aston Martin DBS Superleggera coupe is unsullied by the transition to a cloth top – which, by the way, is available in eight different exterior color options and six options for the interior lining. Speaking of options, the custom configurations for the Superleggera Volante are practically endless – and endlessly tantalizing. Lime Essence and twill carbon fiber exterior with geode quilted Spicy Red and Cote d’Azure Blue “leather environment” atop Sandstorm cabin carpeting, you say? Done, done and … done.

Of course, the four-bedroom in Poland, Ohio has dual masters. And nearby Poland Middle School is rated a 9-out-of-10!

So maybe $329,100 is sounding a little too rich for a convertible. Fear not! Aston Martin has promised a drop-top version of its smaller Vantage model later this year – including the long-awaited return of an optional manual transmission. Convertible Vantage pricing has yet to be announced. With the coupe commanding closer to $150,000, it’s safe to say the open-top version will be well under $200,000 – significantly less than the DBS Superleggera.

Or, we could show you a lovely two-bedroom condo with wood floors and granite countertops in Poland, Ohio … ::


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A new development: How does that work?

One of the perks of my veteran status in the commercial real estate wars is I occasionally get to share my knowledge with a new person in the business. One such conversation occurred this week and it’s quite column-worthy. “How is a development deal underwritten?”

Following are the considerations:


A new project requires buildable land. Duh! However, the land doesn’t have to be undeveloped presently. Specifically, in Orange County, many of the new projects are a redevelopment of sites containing obsolete buildings, such as the Boeing campus in Anaheim and the Beckman campus in Fullerton.

Both sites were bought, the old improvements were scraped and beautiful new structures emerged. As we venture east our likelihood of finding raw, undeveloped land increases. Each site has its own special mix of zoning, city entitlement processing, access, topography, and off-site challenges such as curbs, gutters, streets, utilities, etc. Finally, the land must be owned by a ready, willing, and able seller prepared to meet the market price a developer will pay.

Market demand

What are occupants craving? Generally, a developer must understand the mentality of the folks who will lease or buy the new buildings.

As an example, in North Orange County there is a shortage of available industrial buildings between 20,000-50,000 square feet. Coupled with this shortage is an acute demand for this kind of space. Conversely, another category – regional mall space – has a glut of availability. So now the developer’s task is to figure out a way to build a project of 20,000-50,000 square foot industrial buildings upon a site as described above.

Income stream

So once the new premises are complete what is our expectation of rent? This is tricky yet critical as the development’s viability depends upon this metric. Recent lease comparables, available stock and the direction of the market all must be taken into account. As an example, go inland and there are very few existing, vacant buildings 100,000-150,000 square feet for sale. However, the cavalry of new developments is coming as there are several projects under construction.

Cost to produce

Coverage: How many square feet can I build on the site? In simple terms, if the site is 1 acre (43,560 square feet) and I can construct 20,000 square feet, my coverage is 46%. Why is this important? Because all the cost categories follow.

If we pay $50 per square foot for the land — a total of $2,178,000 — we must now divide by the coverage in order to determine our land cost “under building.” Divide $50 per square foot by 46% and you get $108.69, which is the land cost component attributable to the building.

Now we layer in construction costs plus “soft costs” — things like interest carry — remembering that we have some time before the structures are finished. Now based on what we paid for the land and our estimate of construction and soft costs, we have an idea what our building will cost us to produce.

Exit strategy

Even though this item was left until last, it’s actually the first consideration in any development or investment deal. What’s the end game? Do I plan to lease the buildings and hold them as a long-term investment? Or should I simply sell them vacant upon completion and pocket the proceeds – less of course Uncle Sam’s, and Cousin Gavin’s taste? I could lease the product and then sell the income stream as a leased investment.

Regardless of the exit strategy, each has its own risk, reward, and profit potential.

So, in its simplest terms, there you have it: Development 101.

Disclaimer: Development may be hazardous your health and may cause extreme anxiety, heart palpitations, hair loss, rapid aging and is not for the faint of heart. Proceed with extreme caution.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104.

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Nacho Fries are back at Taco Bell, and Darren Criss is singing their praises

Nacho Fries are back at Taco Bell.

The seasoned french fries with cheese dip return to the menu today, June 6, accompanied by a new ad campaign that features Darren Criss in a trailer for a phony movie musical called “Chasing Gold.”

Criss, best known for the TV series “Glee,” is a singer and songwriter in addition to being an Emmy-winning actor.

In the ad, he plays a parking attendant who becomes a pop star by singing about what he loves. That would be Nacho Fries.

The other actor in the commercial is Chris Diamantopoulos of HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”

Nacho Fries are Taco Bell’s most successful limited time offer ever and have been off and on the menu three prior times since their debut in January. Earlier ad campaigns have featured Josh Duhamel in an “X Files”-type mysteries.

According to a news release, Nacho Fries are available à la carte for $1.29; as Nacho Fries Supreme with ground beef, tomatoes and reduced fat sour cream for $2.49; Nacho Fries Bell Grande, $3.49; and in a $5 box with a 5-Layer Burrito, a Doritos Locos Taco and a medium soft drink.





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Taco Bell gets into beds as well as breakfast with a pop-up Palm Springs hotel

Taco Bell is planning to open a pop-up hotel in Palm Springs this summer.

The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort will open Aug. 9, according to a news release from the Irvine-based fast food giant.

Where is it?

What are the room rates?

Will there be a Taco Bellhop?

We don’t know, but Taco Bell promises to tell us more when it starts taking reservations in June.

Wherever The Bell is, it will be serving Taco Bell food and cocktails or guests 18 and older, according to a news release.

And the property will be “infused with a Taco Bell twist” from its guest rooms to its gift shop and salon offering “Taco Bell-inspired nail art, fades and a braid bar.”

And there will be a pool. That’s fortunate for a couple of reasons.

The first is Taco Bell’s summer collection, recently added to its its online merchandise “Taco Shop.” It includes bikinis emblazoned with hot sauce packets, swim trunks and velour beach towels.

More importantly, Palm Springs visitors need a pool in August. Last year the average high temperature for the month was 109.3 degrees according the National Weather Service. There were zero cloudy days.

Taco Bell’s news release says that The Bell will be in Palm Springs, but some people use the city’s name to describe the entire Coachella Valley. The Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau includes nine cities, from Desert Hot Springs in the north to Coachella in the East. Hotel booking websites list more than 250 lodgings in the valley, from motels to high-end golf resorts.

The City of Palm Springs has the most rooms, with an inventory of more than 1,000. The most high profile hotels are along Highway 111 in neighborhoods with names like Midtown, Twin Palms and Araby Commons.

If The Bell is within city limits, it will double Taco Bell’s presence in Palm Springs. There is only one restaurant, northwest of Palm Springs International Airport.

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No matter the technology, commercial real estate will always be a local trade

When I started plying my trade in the early 80s, our means of sourcing new business were the phone, a Rolodex, shiny shoes, and a big smile! My, my, how things have changed.

If you were engaged to find someone a building or secured an agency to list a vacant property, your methods of getting the word out we’re limited to the U.S. mail, newspaper ads, calls, signs, and telling your fellow brokers. Area specialization was key. Because there were no multiple listing services — local knowledge was your value.

Flash forward. From our kitchen table, we now can access ownership of any commercial property in the United States — and there are over 48 million of them! Want to find a vacant building in Austin, Texas? No problem. Your client operates 400 locations nationally? We are now equipped to manage his account through the technology at our fingertips.

Competition for business is no longer local as everyone has access to the same information.

So with the advent of technology and the open doors we all share, has the local nature of commercial real estate been lost? Hardly!

Value is still local

One of my current assignments has taken me a bit out of my patch. I’ve been hired to locate a distribution center for an East Coast operator. Generating a list of available properties is a snap. Understanding the nuances? Not so much.

An example: We discovered the zoning of one of the buildings we liked would not allow our use. Hmmm. Had I been entrenched in that area daily I would have saved some time. In SoCal, the farther east you look the cheaper commercial real estate pricing becomes. However, distance from the port is greater, which adds a layer of cost. In some cases utilities are higher. Hmmm. Didn’t think about that.

Relationships rule

We recently competed against four different buyers for a building for sale. All four buyers had made asking price offers. All had demonstrated proof of funds and an ability to close quickly. We won the deal! Why? Because I had successfully closed several previous transactions with the owner’s broker. He had confidence in our ability. We see each other at the gym. We talk at open houses. We play golf together. I sat at his table at our recent SIOR (Society of Industrial and Office Realtors) event. This sort of familiarity is impossible if your practice spans many states.

It’s the market

I can look at a building on paper, let’s say in Tempe, Arizona. Certain boxes can be checked: size, amount of office, loading, warehouse clearance, price. I can jump on Southwest Airlines and see it in an hour. Great!

What I can’t determine are the recent sale and lease activity. How many properties with similar features are currently available? What are the local value drivers, such as employment, population growth, attitudes of municipalities and housing? Sure. I can utilize the same database used for the avails, but a true understanding of why the comps sold or leased can only be cataloged by someone there every day. That’s value!

Akin to a beat cop who walks the streets or patrols a neighborhood, commercial real estate is still a local business — and always will be.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104.

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Bargain Hunter: General Mills is holding a Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only contest

General Mills has launched a Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only promotion and will be giving away 15,000 boxes of Lucky Charms filled with rainbow and unicorn marshmallows. You can win one by purchasing a specially marked box of Lucky Charms, then entering the code from its inside panel at Winners will be shipped one of the limited-edition boxes and receive membership in the Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only Club. You must be 18 or older to participate. Contest ends this summer. For more information and alternate entry methods, go to

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Poll: California voters offer mixed views on death penalty, sanctuary laws, horse racing

Californians’ opinions are sharply divided about the death penalty and sanctuary-city policies, but they’re in broad agreement that climate change is a problem and President Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico is a bad idea, according to a poll released Thursday, April 11.

The Quinnipiac University Poll asked 1,005 California voters April 3-8 about several familiar issues and a few new ones, including views of horse racing in the wake of 23 horses’ deaths in three months at Santa Anita.

The poll found that 48% of Californians prefer that people convicted of murder receive life in prison with no chance for parole, while 41% prefer that they get the death penalty. But in what seems like a contradiction, 46% oppose Gov. Gavin Newsom’s suspension of the death penalty, while 44% support Newsom’s policy.

Newsom’s mid-March order suspending executions in California has been controversial in part because critics say it defied the will of voters expressed in recent ballot initiatives regarding capital punishment.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, found state residents also are divided about so-called sanctuary cities, with 46% saying cities “should be able to deal with immigrants as they see fit,” and 47% saying cities should be “forced to comply with federal immigration efforts.”

By an overwhelming margin of 70% to 23%, Californians said they oppose closing the southern border, something Trump has threatened to do if Mexico doesn’t halt illegal immigration to the United States, the poll found.

Also by a solid margin, 63% to 33%, state voters told the pollsters that climate change is “an emergency.” But few were getting behind the Green New Deal, with 16% stating support, 27% opposition and 56% no opinion yet about the environmental and economic policy package proposals sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

When asked by pollsters about major statewide officials, voters expressed more approval than disapproval — but hardly majority support — for Newsom (40%-33%), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (47%-37%) and Sen. Kamala Harris (47%-30%), who is running for president.

Democrats and Republicans differed dramatically on most questions. Among GOP voters only, 68% support the death penalty over life in prison, 88% oppose sanctuary cities, 59% favor closing the border, 75% say climate change is not an emergency, and 75% disapprove of Newsom’s job performance three months into his term.

It was “no surprise” that members of the two major parties were so polarized, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.

The poll was the first to ask Californians for their opinions about horse racing since an unusually high number of fatal injuries to horses in races and workouts prompted Santa Anita Park in Arcadia to interrupt racing for most of March. The deaths have drawn state and county investigations, and brought calls from Feinstein and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, for Santa Anita to halt racing pending those findings.

Asked if Newsom should create an independent panel to investigate the deaths of racehorses, 55% said yes and 35% said no, according to the poll.

Asked about their general views on horse racing, 19% said they were favorable and 20% unfavorable, while 59% expressed no opinion.

Reacting to the high percentage with no opinion, advocates on both sides saw an opportunity to sway the public.

“It’s no surprise to us that only 19% of California voters have a favorable view of racing,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which favors banning horse racing. “More have an unfavorable view, and the majority don’t even care enough to have an opinion about it.”

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the poll shows “we have work to do to educate the public concerning our commitment to the safety of the horse.”

The poll focusing on California was the second this week by Quinnipiac, which is in Connecticut.

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday asked California Democrats about the 2020 presidential race, finding Joe Biden is the choice of 26%, Bernie Sanders 18% and Harris 17%.

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Senior Living: 10 steps to turn around unhealthy habits

By Bruce Horovitz

Contributing writer, Kaiser Health News

It takes moxie to flip an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one — particularly for folks over 60.

Most baby boomers approach retirement age unwilling to follow basic healthy lifestyle goals established by the American Heart Association, said Dr. Dana King, professor and chairman of the department of family medicine at West Virginia University, referencing his university’s 2017 study comparing the healthy lifestyle rates of retired late-middle-aged adults with rates among those still working.

Kaiser Health News interviewed three other prominent experts on aging and health about how seniors can find the will to adopt healthier habits.

“People do financial planning for retirement, but what about retirement health planning?” King said.

Motivated seniors can begin by following KHN’s 10-step program:

  1. Buy great sneakers. Purchase a pair of top-quality sneakers specifically designed for walking, said Carolyn Rosenblatt, founder of, who started participating in triathlons at age 63 and continues to do them at age 70. Start by walking around the block. Expand that to 30-minute walks at least three times weekly — or set a goal to increase your walking distance 10 percent each week. And leave your sneakers by the front door.
  2. Practice your balance. The best way to avoid falls is to retain a good sense of balance, said Rosenblatt. Practice standing on one leg with your eyes closed for at least 30 seconds.
  3. Improve your breakfast. Stop eating the sweet roll with coffee. Consider substituting a home-blended smoothie with a banana, seasonal fruits, almond milk and protein powder or a protein patty without sugar. And cut out excess sugar in all your meals, said Rosenblatt. Replace soda with seltzer water.
  4. De-stress wisely. Find ways to manage your stress that don’t involve food, alcohol or smoking. There are lots of meditation programs you can download on your phone and listen to for even 10 minutes, said Rosenblatt.
  5. Practice resistance training. To keep your muscle mass from disappearing, do resistance training by lifting dumbbells or barbells or using weight machines, said Kay Van Norman, owner of Brilliant Aging, a consulting firm for healthier aging. “Your muscles are amazing, but if you don’t use them, you lose them,” she said.
  6. Hit the floor. Aging adults need to regularly practice getting down on the floor and standing back up again. “If you don’t get down on the floor and back up, you won’t be able to do it after a while,” said Van Norman.
  7. Challenge your speed. While it might not seem as if folks over 60 need to worry about exercise that involves speed and intensity, they do, said Van Norman. “Most people don’t even think about speed in order to stay healthy. But tennis players are doing that all the time. You need to do something to challenge your speed, not just your power.” That’s why sports like tennis can be terrific as you age, she said.
  8. Believe in yourself. Faced with self-doubt and depression after several tragic, challenging events, Sharon Sultan Cutler, 71, turned to therapy to help her feel better about herself. “The first person you have to believe in is yourself,” said Sultan Cutler, an author. “People like to be around other people who believe in themselves.”
  9. Tackle a project. Pick a project that has meaning to you. Sultan Cutler opted to co-author (with two other writers) her first book, “Bandstand Diaries: The Philadelphia Years, 1956-1963,” an inside look at her once favorite TV show, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” Never mind that she’d never written a book before. Now she’s on her third book, “Your New You After 65: Valuable Advice to Inspire Your Awesome Aging.” “It’s like having a daydream that you can actually make happen,” she said.
  10. Embrace self-improvement. Some call this lifelong learning. Living a healthier lifestyle requires constant learning and self-improvement, said Sultan Cutler. Seek out local learning resources like community colleges, where classes are often steeply discounted for seniors, she said. “Self-improvement isn’t just physical. It’s mental, too.”

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Live coverage of the 2019 LA Marathon

Live updates from the 2019 L.A. Marathon.

RELATED: LA Marathon freeway and street closures

Starting times: Wheelchair participants at 6:30 a.m.; handcyclers at 6:42 a.m., elite women runners at 6:45 a.m.; and elite men and the full field at 6:55 a.m.

The #LAMarathon route runs directly outside my apartment. Every year for 15 years, I’ve slept through it. But THIS TIME, yeah, I will continue to do that.The #LAMarathon Street closures have taken effect around the city. Here’s what you need to know to get around the road closures.

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Bargain Hunter: Hotel Irvine has a family spring escape package

Hotel Irvine is offering the Family Fun Spring Escape package on select dates through April 30. Pricing starts at $139 per night and includes $50 food and beverage credit at the pool, complimentary bike rentals, Irvine Spectrum Center complimentary valet parking and Giant Wheel passes, 50 percent off daily hotel self-parking and more. The hotel is at 17900 Jamboree Road, Irvine. Call 877-614-2137 or go to

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