Builders show confidence in the Tri-Valley
San Jose Mercury News, August 26, 2011

Given the challenging economic times that are persisting, it’s great to see some builders believe California and the Tri-Valley have a bright future.

Seeing the huge scrapers moving along slopes in eastern Dublin, shaping the land for more homes demonstrates that confidence. Here’s hoping those folks are right.

Dublin also is moving ahead with development of the Camp Parks military property along Dublin Boulevard, its east-west spine.

After years of work, the Army and SunCal properties executed a deal that will require the developer to build five structures on the base. In exchange, the Army will transfer 180 acres — the biggest land transfer ever for the Army — to the company for development along Dublin Boulevard.

It’s a critical deal to help the city continue to knit the newer east side together with the more established west side. Given the proximity of the east Dublin-Pleasanton BART station, it will create more housing choices for those who would like to live near BART.

Reviewing the building permit records among valley cities for the last five years shows very interesting trends. Despite the dramatic downtown in the economy, Dublin averaged 190 single-family homes per year.

In San Ramon, where the Windemere section is almost built-out, the Gale Ranch area being developed by Shapell has moved consistently ahead, reducing the number of units being released, but building 200 or more units per year.

Livermore felt the downturn, averaging 78 units a year for the last three years. In Pleasanton, there were just 21 permits pulled for single-family homes in the last three years.

That may well change with the city under court-order to eliminate its housing cap and rezone a number of sites for affordable multi-family housing. The city has sent its revised plan to the state for review and expects expecting to hear back in September.

The new home market has been significantly affected by the number of foreclosed homes still available, even in the Tri-Valley market. And, with virtually all homes having taken a significant haircut in value since the market high in 2006, there’s precious little “move-up” activity as homeowners have retrenched.

Of course, the stock market roller coaster has done nothing to improve confidence. Stay tuned to see how the companies boldly building in eastern Dublin will fare.