Del Webb has resurfaced again in San Benito County – more than six years after its attempt to build the 4,400-home “Sun City” near the airport – but this time with plans to develop about a quarter of the units on property at San Juan Oaks Golf Club.
Del Webb, a Pulte Homes subsidiary, is conducting a feasibility study to build on about 500 acres at San Juan Oaks, situated between Hollister and San Juan Bautista. After the studying process is done in the next “several months,” the company would decide whether to move forward, said San Juan Oaks General Manager Scott Fuller.
If that occurs, Del Webb would amend the design in a current development approval for San Juan Oaks – approved in 2004, to build 186 homes – and progress with an environmental review for the new project.
The master plan community would consist of around 1,000 homes and would be designated for active adults, ages 55 and older. That would be around one-fourth of the size of the Sun City project proposed in 2006 on property near the airport, on land also owned at the time by current San Juan Oaks owner Ken Gimelli.
Fuller said details remain unclear on the precise density of the new proposal and other details, but stressed it would have about the same “footprint” as the San Juan Oaks project. He made a similar assertion about the prospective footprint to the five county supervisors, who have been briefed on the new proposal.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho, who represents District 2 and the San Juan Oaks area, confirmed that he was told Del Webb is examining development of around 1,000 building units.
Contrary to 2006 when the company proposed 4,400 units in a seven-year build-out, Del Webb would not have to gain voter approval – required at the time for projects exceeding 100 units. It also would face fewer roadblocks because San Juan Oaks has taken steps in the planning process, while there is much less anti-growth sentiment in a community hardened by the recession.
Del Webb’s Measure S, if passed in 2006, would have amended the city's general plan to re-designate 1,300 acres of agricultural land as a "mixed-use residential community." Once the city's moratorium on development was lifted, the land would have been exempt from a 244-unit annual limit on residential allocations in Hollister. Del Webb could have been issued up to 650 building permits a year. The plans also included a public golf course and walking trails.
In the prospective deal between San Juan Oaks and Del Webb, Gimelli would retain the golf course and event center, along with about 70 market rate lots. With the active adult community nearby, the golf course could experience a significant gain in customer traffic.
“We think there will be, certainly, a lot of activity,” Fuller said.
Fuller said San Juan Oaks is particularly pleased with the builder’s reputation nationally.
“That’s one thing we’re really excited about,” he said. “They’re one of the premier community builders for active adults. We think that active adults are a great population for the location.”
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