• ITALIAN FLAVOR: The Beach Townhomes at Latitude 33 boast individual private front courtyards for outdoor entertaining. Several of the 50 units are situated along the Venice canals.

    Credit: Anthony Gomez

    ITALIAN FLAVOR: The Beach Townhomes at Latitude 33 boast individual private front courtyards for outdoor entertaining. Several of the 50 units are situated along the Venice canals.

Some buildings and sites go through multiple transformations—and owners—­before finding their best niche. Case in point: a 1970s, mid-rise office tower in Marina del Rey, Calif., that Miami-based Lennar Corp. purchased in 2003 and rebuilt as a chic condo tower. Today, the building and two other condo assets make up Latitude 33, a beach community development named in part for its location at 33 degrees north latitude. Each building reflects a distinct personality that caters to variations of upscale buyers seeking eco-friendly designs that take advantage of a prime three-acre site near Venice Beach.

But all this was years in the making, and not before a change in ownership. In 2006, Lennar started constructing the building that was later to become the second condo property at Latitude 33. Then, the housing downturn pushed the entire project into bankruptcy.

In 2009, Los Angeles–based developer ­SunBrook Partners purchased the two distressed assets from Lennar for $38 million. SunBrook hired KAA Design, based in Marina del Rey, to rebrand, relandscape, and complete the buildings, which SunBrook dubbed Sky Flats and Boardwalk Residences. The former features 45 units with floor-to-ceiling windows and open-loft plans. The latter, a four-story low-rise, contains 27 townhouse-style units ringing a courtyard. Both condos opened a year ago; between half and three-quarters of the units at each have sold.

Last year, SunBrook sold a third of the site to Irvine, Calif.–based Standard Pacific Homes, which built Latitude 33’s third and newest complex, Beach Townhomes. Consisting of 50 casual, attached, three-level townhouses with private courtyards, the complex was inspired by homes along Strand Beach near Dana Point, the epitome of hip California beachfront living. The units, which debuted this past April and are pegged to be completed by the end of 2012 or early 2013, range from 1,835 square feet to 1,901 square feet and are priced from $850,000 to $1.1 million.

Designers at Pacific Design Interiors of Newport Beach, Calif., merchandised two of the Beach models to appeal to two buyer segments—single men working in the entertainment industry and mothers with young children seeking smaller, lower-maintenance homes than they might find in the suburbs. Four of the units have sold since April 30.

“The project has helped revitalize an empty building and its neighborhood, which had become a deserted corner,” says Amber Turner, SunBrook’s director of sales and marketing. “But it’s now returned to life.”