Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Created: 04/14/2012 07:09:23 AM PDT

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The first renters at the Lewis Group of Cos. “Santa Barbara” apartments have begun to move in, and the developers plan on building upon the coastal city’s name to create a new brand of upscale apartments.

“If this is successful, in a few years you’ll be reading about the Santa Barbara apartments in Chino Hills,” said Randall Lewis, the development group’s executive vice president.

And maybe two or three other California cities, Lewis said.

The Santa Barbara apartments in Rancho Cucamonga are a 192-unit development within Terra Vista, the Lewis Group’s 1,340-acre development that includes more than 8,000 homes and apartments in addition to many commercial buildings.

Lewis Group designed the Santa Barbara apartments in a Spanish colonial style evocative of the Central Coast and the development’s namesake city. Red-tile roofs sit atop three-story white buildings adorned in places with tilework and wrought iron that from the outside, resemble the buildings of early California.

On the inside, each unit at Santa Barbara opens to a first-floor entryway with stairs leading to a second-story kitchen and living room. Each unit has three floors, and the master bedrooms are on top.

Lewis Group’s bet on the Santa Barbara complex is part of recent trend of developers favoring apartments and condos over new houses. Although the past year was the slowest ever in California in terms of new building permits for new single-family homes, permits for multi-family construction jumped 33 percent in California.

Up and down the state, permitting officials approved 26,000 permits for apartments and condos last year, compared with permits for about 21,400 permits for new homes, according to the California Building Industry Association.

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