THREE OF THE WEST'S most prominent builders and developers are teaming up to create what they see as the “New” new town—a standalone, self-contained community where four out of five people who work there will actually be able to live there.

Besides being planned for a wide assortment of housing to accommodate a diverse range of lifestyles, households, and budgets, the 11,700-acre community at the northwestern tip of Los Angeles County 60 miles from the city also will incorporate the latest thinking in sustainability, energy savings, water conservation, and transportation efficiency.

“Centennial aspires to become a benchmark for environmental design and construction,” proclaims a brochure created to allow planners and others to get a handle on exactly what it is the partners, known collectively as the Centennial Founders, have in mind.

CITY IN A CITY: Pardee Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, and Lewis Investment Co. want Centennial to be self-contained.

It's truly a grand vision—a self-reliant community set in harmony with its surroundings. And Randall Lewis thinks the group—Pardee Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, and his own Lewis Investment Co., along with the landowner, Tejon Ranch Co.—has the right stuff to pull it off.

“It will be one of the finest master planned communities in the country,” Lewis vows. “We are borrowing from what others are doing and improving upon it.”

EARLY STAGES Centennial's got a long way to go. Only a paper version exists, and it is just beginning the long gestation period under California's complex environmental quality act, a process that requires the study of every possible impact, from air quality to geology and biology.

Nevertheless, Lewis is hopeful all the necessary approvals will come sooner rather than later—within 14 to 16 months if the process moves along quickly, but still no longer than three years if it should bog down unexpectedly.

One of the things Centennial has going for it is its geography. It is the only part of the huge Tejon Ranch that sits in Los Angeles County. Once inhabited by five different Native American tribes, the 270,000-acre ranch was established in 1842 through a Mexican land grant. Now, under a 25-year plan, the Tejon Ranch Co. has pledged to preserve up to 100,000 acres in a continued commitment to ranching and farming and develop only 5 percent of the remaining land.

Centennial, however, is not joined by an existing urban area. Framed by imposing mountain ranges, it is separated from the Santa Clarita Valley by nearly 50 miles of the permanently protected Angeles National Forest. Yet the property itself is relatively flat, with little vegetation. In fact, cattle have been grazing on it for the past 100 years—so it is ripe, if not ideal, for development. But only so much development. While it is one of the largest land holdings in Los Angeles County available for comprehensive town planning, only half the acreage will be developed. The rest will be set aside as open space that can never be touched by human hands. Still, it is what Lewis says is the perfect size to enact the principles the partners espouse.

The property is somewhat remote, at least by Southern California standards. It sits along Ridge Road, the long-forgotten artery that was once the main route between Southern and Northern California before Interstate 5 was built in the 1950s. But it is just off “The Five,” as Californians call it, and another significant transportation corridor, State Highway 138.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.