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REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
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Luxury homebuilder plans 2K new homes in Lake Forest

Toll Brothers and Shea Homes have partnered to develop Baker Ranch

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: June 20, 2012 03:55 PM

Orange County can expect to see yet another new home development project kicking up dust in the coming months. Toll Brothers, a national luxury homebuilder, has partnered with Corona-based Shea Homes on a project to develop a new master-planned community, Baker Ranch, in Lake Forest.

The new development has been approved for more than 2,000 homes and will consist of three villages made up of approximately 1,780 single-family homes and up to 414 apartments. Construction on the first village is set to begin this fall, with first sales anticipated in spring of 2014.

Douglas Yearley Jr., CEO of Toll Brothers, said the company is excited to be working with Shea on the Lake Forest site, and described Orange County as “one of the nation's premier markets in which to live and work.”

“Together with Shea, we will create a wonderful place for residents of Southern California to enjoy the unique lifestyle of this special region,” Yearley said. "Our history of building homes and developing master-planned communities in Orange County dates back nearly twenty years. The size and scope of this community will ensure we are able to continue this tradition and serve our customers in this market for many years to come."

The new project is also designed to offer community amenities to residents, including recreation areas, 40 acres of open space, an 8.4-acre central park, seven neighborhood parks, three private recreation clubs and walkways and bike paths linking the neighborhoods to all the parks are recreational areas and facilities.

A separate project by the city of Lake Forest is constructing a nearby neighborhood community athletic park, which will be home to a number of sports fields and courts for baseball and softball, soccer, hard courts for basketball and tennis, a 300,000-square-foot recreation center and gymnasium and an amphitheater.

Orange County’s home development market has seen a comeback in the last few years, despite a somewhat halting economic recovery from the recent recession. In fact, a number of home developers have been banking on Orange County’s burgeoning residential real estate market, with several thousand new homes sold, under construction or currently in the planning stages.

This growth is due in part to consumer confidence, and also in part to Orange County’s relatively stable economic position. As of May, Orange County is tied with Napa for fourth lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 7.5 percent. California’s overall unemployment rate for the month came in at 10.8 percent.

The Irvine Company recently reported that 2012 has proven to be among the most successful seasons for the company in terms of home sales. Tom Veal, vice president of Residential Sales and Marketing for Irvine Company Community Development, recently described the company’s pace of sales as “torrid,” saying that the declining rate of available new home inventory is driving sales.

“All of the neighborhoods we opened in January 2010 are now completely sold out,” Veal said. “The strong sales pace has continued over the past two years, and our challenge now is to continue to meet that demand.”

The Irvine Company has sold 553 new homes in the last five months, with four neighborhoods completely sold out in 2012. Since January 2010, the company has closed on a total of 2,036 home sales.

FivePoint Communities in January broke ground on its development of 5,000 homes on the site of the former El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, soon to become the Great Park Neighborhoods. Approved in September 2011, the project is expected to create more than 16,000 jobs over the course of its planning, development and construction phases. When complete, the 10-year Great Park Neighborhoods project will comprise 10,700 homes, 1.2 million square feet of retail, office, recreational and educational space, 23 miles of walking and biking trails, and a shopping and entertainment district at the southern end of Great Park near the Irvine Transportation Center.

Another project, Rancho Mission Viejo in San Juan Capistrano, began construction in southern Orange County in March, with an opening date for its first village, Sendero, set for summer 2013. With plans laid out for up to 14,000 new homes and apartments, Rancho Mission Viejo is the most ambitious of home developments in the works.