ColRich’s three-story models made COO Graeme Gabriel nervous at first. It wasn’t SolTerra’s expansive canyon or peekaboo ocean views from that height that made him queasy, but rather the worry that nobody would want to buy them. “People thought that in San Diego there is no way that anyone would have a three-story plan,” recalls Gabriel.

ColRich was pushed into adding the third floors to two of three model floor plans to achieve enough density to make the site work. What started out as a necessity became a novel amenity that turns buyers’ heads and opens their wallets. “The project has resonated with the buying public, and we have been rewarded,” says Gabriel.

The luxury production community in La Costa Greens averaged 3.5 home sales a month in its first year, ending October 2010. It has since slowed to 2.5 a month as it approaches buildout. Only six of the 38 homes remained for sale in April. And the houses are selling at a premium to the competition—$277 a square foot compared to between $207 and $250 for competitors’ homes.

The three home plans, designed by the Dahlin Group, start in the low $500,000s and range from 1,989 to 2,195 square feet, with up to five bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths.

ColRich merchandised the third floor as a flex space, with the two models decorated as a home office and as a TV/playroom.

The third story isn’t the only thing different about SolTerra. While the exteriors are Mediterranean, which was a requirement in order to match the rest of the community, the interiors are decidedly urban, inspired by popular downtown high-rise products.

“People have really yearned for these new interiors,” says Kelly Hiltscher, sales and marketing director for ColRich. “This current design doesn’t feel like the stuff they are moving out of.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA.