Vandalized homes may become the phoenix of a premiere development
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
If you want to see why homes cost so much, and how the county can either make or break a developer’s plans to build homes for its citizens, then take a ride west along Simpson Road from the town of Winchester and check out what looks like a development under construction called Pleasant Valley Ranch.
At Simpson Road and Shady Lane, one encounters a large gated community with what appear to be five model homes under construction. The buildings’ walls and roofs are in place, but the windows appear to be unfinished, and the homes are empty inside. Locals, however, have been looking at these unfinished homes for the past 10 years.
The buildings are not actually under construction. In fact, they’ve been stripped by scavengers of anything of value from the copper pipes and wiring to the windows and frames. The homeless had set up camp in one, so the story goes, and managed to set it on fire. That building has since been torn down and the debris hauled off.
The lovely two-story buildings were originally show homes and had everything inside to excite the imagination from furniture to appliances. Then the recession of 2008 hit, and no one had any money to build on the 202 planned home sites.Prices plummeted, and it cost more to build a home than they could fetch at market. The show homes just sat there and were gradually dismantled by thieves.
Part of the problem was a dispute between the developer and the county of Riverside. It seems there was a promise made to the developer that the county would share in the cost of building a storm-drain facility to serve the area. In that agreement, the county said it would pay for and install the important first stage, which connected the entire regional drain to Salt Creek. Developers always pay thousands in impact fees and improvements for such things as sidewalks, street trees, and their share of regional facilities. However, in this case the county changed its mind – or ran into its own funding issues and decided not to build its portion of the facility.
Between that dispute and the credit squeeze, the project came to a screeching halt. While the homes sat there deteriorating, the irony is that the 55-acre location just east of Menifee at 31235 Linden Flower Road in Winchester is one of the most beautiful in the San Jacinto Valley.
Recently, one of the nation’s largest home builders, William Lyon Homes, which has projects in both San Jacinto and Hemet – the former called Parkside, at the northeast corner of Sanderson and Seventh Street – and the latter, called Court and Collection at Hideaways, at the northwest corner of State and Fruitvale – has shown interest in the property.
A portion of the original 202-lot subdivision is reported to be in escrow with Lyon Homes which plans to develop it as a community called, Wildrose at Pleasant Valley Ranch. The sign says, “Coming Soon.” When contacted by The Valley Chronicle, however, a Lyon representative cautioned that it may not be coming “all that soon.” Seems there’s a hangup in the escrow proceedings. One wonders if the snag once again isn’t with the county.
If the development ever does get back on track, there could be 100 or more very nice homes built on one of the most beautiful locations in the region. The owner, reportedly Watermarke Development Properties, is now looking for a buyer for the remaining 95 near-finished lots, each with a minimum size of 7,200 square-feet, views of the mountains, and an “opportunity for a builder to provide the recreational enthusiast a place to park their toys.”
For more information, call realtors Harry Fotinos at 619-206-2655 or Darrell Hoover at 949-423-6990, x3066.