Pete Zehnder, founder and principal of boutique development firm Collective Housing Supply, first made waves for his groundbreaking residential developments in Costa Mesa with the buzzworthy bungalows at 1.7 Ocean, the green-living cottages at 12@Elden and the stylish Westside homes at Midtown 10. Building on the success of these popular developments, Pete partnered with another boutique developer - Pinnacle Residential - and continued to change the face of Costa Mesa living, with Collective Eastside, Collective on the Park and Westreef. Now, Pete and Pinnacle have taken on another historic project. This time, it’s developing the first new home collection in Costa Mesa’s beloved Mesa Verde community: Miraval. As the Co-Creator/Co-Developer of Miraval at Mesa Verde, Pete not only brings a proven track record for high-quality development to the project, but also a surprisingly diverse mix of inspiration, drawing on his dynamic career. We talked to Pete - about his career, building houses and why Costa Mesa is one of the best places to live - over pork belly tacos at one of his favorite local spots - Taco Maria at The OC Mix.
Q: We’ve heard your career spans everything from skateboarding to gold mining. Can you take us on a bit of that journey?
A: Not to date myself (laughs), but it all started in the mid-1960s when I started making surfboards and skateboards in my family’s garage. I really vibed with the creative process and decided to go to art school to study design. After art school, I took my passion for making things and for creative design and started Alva Skates with Dogtown Lord Tony Alva. We spun off a clothing line - we had our launch party at Studio 54 in Manhattan - with showrooms in L.A. and New York. After Alva Skates, I changed gears and raised money for a gold mining technology venture. I know it seems like a strange departure, but it helped to further develop my interest in making things. From there, I went on to work in construction lending, which introduced me to some exceptional developers, and led to my first project - building several multi-family apartment properties. That, minus a brief stop to co-found “The Woods” in Brentwood - which as a fresh flower market, design studio and boutique home decor destination that became a celebrity and media favorite - sealed the deal for my life as a developer.
Q: What attracted you to this project?
A: Mesa Verde is the next “next place.” It’s the kind of community where you know your neighbors and plan block parties - where your kids play in the street, the yard and the park. That kind of “old school” vibe is actually new school now and, I’d say, will always appeal. When we came across the opportunity to develop Miraval at Mesa Verde, we knew it fit our mold. Each of our projects is completely unique and fully respects its environment. With Miraval, we designed a community that would blend with and complement its surroundings, but also inject new and exciting energy into Mesa Verde as well. And, it’s likely the only infill residential neighborhood in the area where traditional large, family-sized yards and lots - 7,000-plus square feet - are achievable.
Q: What were your inspirations in creating Miraval?
A: I was completely inspired by the Mesa Verde neighborhood and its traditional family lifestyle. Add to that the Mid Century influences there, and it all brings to mind the way many of us lived as kids in the 50s and 60s and even into the 70s. I know, I’m old (laughs)! Look at the old magazine ads for automobiles and housing from that era and you’ll see what I mean. Dad is always shown coming home from work and there's mom (in an apron of course) and the kids waiting outside to meet him. Usually the next-door neighbor is waving in the background, the Dodgers game is on the transistor radio and the coals are fired up on the barbecue. We would hop on our bikes and just go knock on our friends’ doors to find someone to play with. Some of us remember that it was time to come home when it got dark or we heard Dad’s unmistakable loud whistle. That stuff is what I hope will be in the DNA at Miraval. Combine the lifestyle with truly great architecture and a modern design esthetic, and the whole experience will be exceptional.