It's hard to believe that two decades have passed since I founded Brandywine Homes with nothing more than a part-time bookkeeper as staff and one urban infill project on the books.
To be honest, some people thought I was crazy. In 1994, when I started Brandywine, most builders shied away from urban infill and downtown development projects because of the complex and challenging land acquisition and entitlement process. Infill development isn't easy, and over the past 20 years it has only become more cumbersome. But we're not slowing down.
Jim Barisic, founder and chairman, Brandywine Homes
In 1994, Southern California was beginning to recover from a residential real estate slump, but the housing market was still iffy. Home mortgage interest rates were inching up, and banks were still shy about making construction loans. It was a questionable time, at best, to start a homebuilding company. Undaunted, Brandywine Homes Chairman Jim Barisic founded his company with only a part-time bookkeeper as staff, focusing on providing new homes to Southern California's older, more crowded coastal cities. As Brandywine grew and prospered, Jim, his three sons and a staff that has grown to include 19 people have helped rebuild neglected neighborhoods by converting outdated strip malls, parking lots and empty warehouses into much-needed housing in Southern California.
Brandywine Homes has more than doubled in size in the past four years, but the family company's close-knit spirit remains. Under the direction of Chairman Jim Barisic and his three sons, Brett Whitehead (president and CFO), Mark Whitehead (vice president of operations) and David Barisic (vice president of sales and marketing), Brandywine has grown into one of Southern California's preeminent infill builders while maintaining the company's core values of cultivating community, long-term partnerships, craftsmanship and service. "I don't think the face of the company has changed over the years," says David. "We've just added more faces."
To learn more about Brandywine's close-knit culture, see Keeping It Real While Doubling in Size.
Over the years, Brandywine Homes has revitalized transitional neighborhoods, brought life back into stagnating city centers and provided much-needed housing to underserved areas in Southern California through its unique ability to work in full partnership with city officials, regulators, investors and contractors. The following are just a handful of the vibrant communities by Brandywine.
Through public/private partnerships with local governments and nonprofit organizations, Brandywine provides market-rate and workforce housing, finding innovative ways to help Southern California cities rebuild for the future. Brandywine communities are often mixed-use and include a variety of home types that appeal to a broad range of homebuyers. To see a sample of our communities, click here.
In 1994, Ace of Base had the top hit song, The Sign, and feel-good movies such as The Lion King and Forrest Gump ruled in theaters. Things were looking up for the residential real estate market, which had just begun to show signs of a comeback following a long downturn. Still, rising mortgage rates — topping out at 9 percent — had builders, investors and potential homebuyers worried. (Little did anyone know how low those rates would eventually go.)
In 2014, Meghan Trainor's hit All About That Bass is topping the charts, and more sobering movies such as The Fault in Our Stars and Dawn of the Planet Apes are box office hits. The residential real estate market is less gloomy, as new home construction and sales rebound from the devastating Great Recession. Historically low mortgage rates, hovering around 4.3 percent, are helping to fuel the recovery.