I finally caught up with Ken Cornell, the developer of those luxury condos in Mission and Pacific beaches that we’d heard were going to auction.

Cornell, whose Ocean Pacific Companies has dramatically redrawn real estate at the beach, was confident about his decision to go to auction with 24 condos on Oct. 11 at the Hyatt Islandia in Mission Bay.

Those sales will be discounted by potentially 20 to 30 percent, he said. On a condo previously priced at more than $2 million, Cornell expected someone might come away paying $1.6 million.

In the minds of passersby (a few of whom have been e-mailing me excitedly about the Auction! Signs! on Ocean! Front! Walk!), auction means discount. But Cornell wanted to elucidate: the company’s not in trouble.

“We just want to pay down some of our bank debt,” Cornell said. “We don’t build this stuff to hang onto it. This is a deliberate to spur and increase sales that have been a little slow.”

He said the company had 28 sales last year; it was expecting only about 12 this year without a move like this.

“It’s a good opportunity for someone to get a good deal on the oceanfront,” he said.

I heard from a Survival reader who stopped by the company’s office this afternoon to learn more about the auction. Here’s what he found:

The $175,000 place is a 1/1 way off the beach (over a mile) in PB on Garnet Ave.. The lowest-priced true beach area unit is $395,000 for a 285 s.f. studio with no ocean view. They are all really nice in typical OPP fashion. They are all listed with the “Opening Bid” price and “Previous Pricing” price. The salesperson told me that they expect the winning bids to be somewhere in the middle.

KELLY BENNETT

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