Surrounding Landscape at Tejon Ranch
Courtesy of Tejon Ranch Surrounding Landscape at Tejon Ranch

The Tejon Ranch land grant deed bears the signature of Abraham Lincoln but the privately held Tejon Ranch Company that owns the property has its sights set on a mixed-use future. The sprawling parcel of land located an hour north of Los Angeles has three planned communities on the boards that will someday host about 35,000 homes. Two have already been approved by Kern County and the other is in the final stages of entitlement in Los Angeles County.

“We’ve been at the planning and entitlement process for close to 20 years,” says Barry Zoeller, vice president of corporate communications at Tejon which is based in Lebec, California. “Given the high barriers to entry and the difficulties in navigating the regulatory process it likely will be the last regional development that will take place at this scale in California.”

Ninety percent of the ranch’s 422 square miles of land will be maintained as a preserve and the ranch will continue with its other commercial activities which includes agriculture and ranching as well as oil and gas exploration. Even with all that going on the company believes it’s sitting on a real estate gold mine. “Certainly this is about building long-term shareholder value by unlocking the value of the ranch,” says Zoeller.

The company is planning to add the three communities along Interstate 5 which runs north and south from L.A. to Portland, Ore. The three communities will encompass Grapevine with 12,000 homes, Mountain Village with 3,450 homes, and Centennial with more than 19,000 homes.

Running Paths Planned for the Future of Tejon Ranch
Courtesy of Tejon Ranch Running Paths Planned for the Future of Tejon Ranch

The developments will incorporate a mix of housing types. “It will be everything from multi-family to attached condos and townhomes to high-density, single family to lower-density single family,” says Zoeller. Price ranges for the new homes haven’t been set yet.

All the new homes will include photovoltaic systems standard and the communities will feature a walkable design. “In our Centennial community every house and every residential unit will be within a quarter mile of a park, connected by trails to the park and within half mile of a school connected by trails,” says Zoeller.

The ranch property currently hosts mixed-use retail and outlet shopping malls. Mountain Village will be the first community to be built and will be located near the existing stores with construction slated to begin in two years. Tejon hopes to draw new residents to Grapevine from the Bakersfield / San Joaquin area while Mountain Village and Centennial will target to markets in the south.

Farm to Table at Tejon Ranch
Courtesy of Tejon Ranch Farm to Table at Tejon Ranch

“We have real housing crises here in California,” says Zoeller. “Depending on the latest statistics, we’re at least a million units if not more short of where the state needs to be. We think there is pent-up demand that these communities will be able to meet.”

The Centennial community is designed to be a job creator beyond the construction work that’s needed to get the development out of the ground. The ranch is taking the long view about the length of the commitment needed to see the end of the massive project. “This is a 25- to 30-year plan once everything gets started,” says Zoeller. “When people ask me for the closest comparison to what we’re trying to do I talk about Irvine in Orange County. It was a historic land grant community and the primary land use was agriculture.”