Is Va­len­cia ‘Awe­some­town’ or is it just ‘Lameville’?

Builder’s ad cam­paign in­spires dis­senters, who vent on the Web. Fans tout area’s ap­peal.

Los Angeles Times - - Business - Alana Se­muels

Just an­other day in … Awe­some­town.

Ne­whall Land Devel­op­ment has used a va­ri­ety of mar­ket­ing slo­gans over the years to sell homes and re­cruit new res­i­dents to Va­len­cia, its mas­ter-planned com­mu­nity in the city of Santa Clarita.

“Built as promised” was kind of a snooze. So was “The place to be.” But the web­site, print ads, bill­boards and banners now brand­ing Va­len­cia as “Awe­some­town” are gen­er­at­ing plenty of buzz over the rel­a­tive awe­some­ness — or lack thereof — of the mas­sive devel­op­ment 33 miles north of Los An­ge­les.

De­trac­tors have flocked to a Face­book page called “Who the [heck] de­cided that Va­len­cia, CA was Awe­some­town?” (Ex­cept they

didn’t say heck.)

The page fea­tures a copy of a Ne­whall Land ad with a smil­ing Va­len­cia res­i­dent tot­ing golf clubs — slightly mod­i­fied with a big red X plas­tered over the glee­ful duffer and the com­men­tary that “no one in Va­len­cia is ever that happy.”

Cre­ated by Va­len­cia res­i­dent Alexis Brodie, a 23year-old Cal State Northridge stu­dent, the page has at­tracted more than 4,100 Face­book fol­low­ers in just a few months.

“There’s noth­ing to do in this town, and no rea­son it should be con­sid­ered Awe­some­town,” Brodie said.

Some com­menters have sug­gested some other less char­i­ta­ble nick­names for Va­len­cia, in­clud­ing “Lameville.” Some have used the page to crit­i­cize Ne­whall Land, which started plan­ning a sec­ond mas­sive com­mu­nity, Ne­whall Ranch, dur­ing the hous­ing boom, and emerged from bank­ruptcy last year.

Fans of Va­len­cia, how­ever, tes­tify to its awe­some­ness.

“If you have a fam­ily, it is a great place to raise your kids. It’s a great place to put down roots,” said John Buc­cola, 32, who bought a house in Awe­some­town last year for his fam­ily of four. He said his wife and two sons are ex­cited about the schools, neigh­bor­hoods and walk­ing trails of Va­len­cia — al­though they don’t love the devel­op­ment’s nick­name.

“We roll our eyes and shake our heads,” he said. “But the essence of the mes­sage is true.”

Rancher Henry Mayo Ne­whall planted the seeds for Awe­some­town in 1875 when he bought up parts of a Span­ish land grant. Ne­whall Land & Farm­ing turned the farm­land into homes in the 1960s as the com­pany started lay­ing out a mas­ter­planned com­mu­nity. Va­len­cia is now an af­flu­ent area of 20,000 homes di­vided into

‘The great thing about this cam­paign — lots of peo­ple re­ally love it, and there are some peo­ple who don’t like it. In ei­ther case, they’re talk­ing about us.’

— Mar­lee Lauf­fer,

Ne­whall Land spokes­woman

vil­lages with bu­colic names such as Or­chard Vil­lage and the Sum­mit.

The town’s cool­ness fac­tor is helped by the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of the Arts, the pro­gres­sive art school that calls Va­len­cia home, and the ad­ja­cent Six Flags Magic Moun­tain and Hur­ri­cane Har­bor at­trac­tions. It’s also where Tay­lor Laut­ner, the ac­tor who plays bar­relch­ested were­wolf Ja­cob Black in the “Twi­light” movies, at­tended high school.

Ne­whall Land spokes­woman Mar­lee Lauf­fer said the com­pany’s ad agency asked dozens of res­i­dents what they liked about Va­len­cia, and the an­swers — “awe­some schools, awe­some walk­ing paths, awe­some town cen­ter” — in­spired the cam­paign. She doesn’t mind the op­po­si­tion to it.

“The great thing about this cam­paign — lots of peo­ple re­ally love it, and there are some peo­ple who don’t like it. In ei­ther case, they’re talk­ing about us,” she said.

Even Brodie, the cre­ator of the Face­book page, ad­mits that Va­len­cia has a cer­tain ap­peal.

“When I grad­u­ate, my goal is to move out of Va­len­cia,” she said. “But not too far.”

Anne Cu­sack

CAM­PAIGN: Ne­whall Land is us­ing the nick­name to pro­mote its planned com­mu­nity in Santa Clarita.

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