The New Home Company has expanded into the San Francisco Bay Area through the acquisition of the 16.8-acre former Niven Nursery in Larkspur, Calif., where New Home intends to build 85 homes.
Brian Olin, New Home’s senior vice president, tells Builder that this land had become dilapidated and vandalized, and had long been a target of renewal by the town, which is located right over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. Upon being presented the land by a local broker, “there was instant attraction” for New Home, says Olin. Neither New Home nor the city disclosed the land’s selling price.
The builder, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., plans to build a range of products on this site, including 50 units for seniors, 29 single-family homes, and six below-market-rate cottages. The houses’ sizes will range from 1,150 to 3,500 square feet. Demolition of the nursery is scheduled to begin in a few weeks and will require environmental remediation. Construction will start soon after that, with the infrastructure scheduled for completion by early 2013 and home sales expected to extend through 2014.
The community will include a 2.43-acre public space that the Larkspur City Council approved in January 2010. In fact, this site is part of the city’s downtown development plan approved in 2006, which calls for residential development of the nursery, and a mix of residential and commercial development on adjoining properties. (As part of its agreement, The New Home Company obtains the rights to the redevelopment plans, says Olin.)
The San Francisco Business Times and the Marin Independent Journal report that the redevelopment project has been stalled since August 2010, when The Irving Group—which represents the Niven family, the landowner since the 1920s—sued the property’s developer Larkspur Housing Partners, alleging that the developer had voided its contract by not closing escrow in time for a July 1 deadline. Earlier this year, the Journal reports, both parties filed a request to dismiss both the original suit and a cross-complaint Larkspur Housing had filed against the owner. The city also received a quitclaim deed canceling Larkspur Housing's interest in the property.
Before coming to Larkspur, the farthest north in California that New Home had ventured was Sacramento. Olin says his company is currently looking at land opportunities throughout the state, including the Bay Area. “We have a positive outlook about California in general.”
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.