Scenic isn’t often the first word that comes to mind when describing Southern California’s Inland Empire region, a 27,000-square-mile urban metropolis that clusters approximately 4 million residents across Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In 2012, the New Home Co. sought to amend that notion when the firm—no stranger to maximizing the livability of burgeoning areas—had the opportunity to purchase a rare pocket of land tucked at the base of a bluff behind the Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest.
New Home Co. executives knew that the 275-acre parcel in the neighborhood of South Corona would be attractive to home buyers for its good schools, retail, and proximity to both Los Angeles and Orange County. However, the area lacked two imperatives: affordable, well-designed housing that would allow more families to enjoy its perks, and thoughtful infrastructure, including a functional overpass that would reduce traffic for South Corona and connect its residents to local destinations.
When the Aliso Viejo, Calif.–based master planner and builder purchased the parcel in 2014 in a joint venture with Toronto-based Tricon Capital Group, the original plan for the 1,620-home Bedford development contained a heavy mix of commercial space and apartment homes. It was met with objections from the city, which cited catastrophic traffic problems in an community that was already in need of infrastructure solutions.
After extensive environmental impact studies and focus groups with residents and businessowners, the team took the existing site plan back to the drawing board and submitted a revised proposal that cut back on commercial space, added markets and restaurants, implemented nearly four times as many detached homes, and, in an unprecedented move, offered to front $62 million to build what is now the Cajalco overpass for a gradual reimbursement of just under 68% of that expense through state and federal funding. Without the investment, the bridge likely would not have been constructed for several years.
“We completely replanned the site and took whatever measures necessary to lower both its density and traffic in order to get the community built,” says A.J. Jarvis, president of the New Home Co.’s Southern California division.
The builders/developers were also tasked with constructing a 150-foot-wide flood channel that would keep water out of the national forest by moving it to a channel adjacent to the highway nearby, which in turn sacrificed a significant amount of land, in addition to the 50 acres New Home Co. elected to keep untouched in order to preserve the rare pocket of lush landscape in the area.
Open since September, Bedford was designed to respect the historic roots of the area. To make that happen, the New Home team collaborated with a trio of architecture firms known for their award-winning production designs: Newport Beach, Calif.–based Bassenian Lagoni, Santa Ana firm Woodley
Architectural Group, and Costa Mesa, Calif.–based JZMK Partners. The firms were tasked with designing a series of homes and complexes reminiscent of early California-style design—Spanish, Mediterranean, Monterrey, and a contemporary revival of the farmhouse—including the community’s anchoring clubhouse. Irvine, Calif.–based TRI Pointe Homes and Utah-based Woodside Homes signed on to complete the build-out. To draw on the development’s unique surrounding landscape the designers oriented each community to face the bluff and a small stream, making that topography the focal point of the neighborhood and site plan.
“Our vision for Bedford was to create a special community that intersects quality, design, and attainability,” says Larry Webb, CEO at New Home Co. “The timing couldn’t be better to deliver much needed new housing to the Inland Empire.”
Undoubtedly, the star of Bedford’s orbit is Hudson House, a social hub that’s the brainchild of New Home’s focus groups, and addresses future buyers’ desire for a bar-style gathering space that offers a change of scenery and a place to enjoy drinks with neighbors without getting in the car. Granting residents the “Sidecar Bar” and then some, the complex, which was designed by JZMK Partners, features three pools and a spa, sports courts, lounge areas overlooking the open space, barbecue grills, a children’s room, and a collection of indoor–outdoor spaces in varying sizes for neighborhood events. The facility also features an expansive multipurpose room finished with a fireplace, lounge area, bar, and catering kitchen.
Located off the central courtyard, residents enter the clubhouse through sliding barn doors that ground the development’s contemporary farmhouse aesthetic and connect from the great room to the veranda that overlooks the lawn adjacent to the adult and kids’ pool. Along the hub’s perimeter, hiking trails, cycling paths, and parks open the neighborhoods up to the public along the restored Bedford Canyon Wash creek.
Coined “a good place to grow,” Bedford combines three architectural product styles: attainably priced townhomes for first-time buyers, two-story detached residences with private rear yards in a six-pack and eight-pack motor court configuration for intermediate buyers, and four- to five-bedroom single-family homes designed for growing, move-up families.
These latter homes, located in the Whitney section and built by New Home, range from 2,771 to 3,327 square feet and start in the low $600s. They encompass 41 move-up-buyer targeted homes conceptualized around spacious kitchens and loggias, which offer seamless indoor–outdoor living and views of the bluffs and foliage. Arranged in L-shaped floor plans that encourage residents to get outside by putting the lush surrounding landscape on view, the homes’ dining spaces are positioned along the perimeter of glass sliding doors in the great room to enable that physical and visual connection to the outdoors.
Four or five generously sized bedrooms fill the upstairs floor, finished with smart design decisions such as in the product’s Plan 3, in which the bathroom and closet are located off the entry to the bedroom, reducing light pollution and allowing couples who arise at different times to prepare for their days without disturbing the other’s sleep.
For residents with multigenerational needs, a second private suite is located in a more secluded portion of the home for live-in family members and caretakers.
Located on the western edge of the development, the neighborhood of Citron is made up of just over 100 row homes designed by Woodley Architectural Group. The enclave of townhouses built by TRI Pointe Group offers an attainable option for first-time buyers without sacrificing the creature comforts of the development’s more spacious models. The two-
story, detached residences are designed in a modern farmhouse style and fitted with interior details such as waterfall countertops in soft-hued kitchens that live larger than the product’s $300,000 price tag.
Ranging from 1,289 to 1,551 square feet, the residences are designed to speak to both millennial and move-down buyers who are looking for a simple, low-maintenance home in a social community. Fitted with an abundance of glass that streams light all around the homes, the floor plans offer a singular, open living space that accommodates gatherings, and even a small porch out front.
“They’re designed for maximum efficiency, and for the way people want to live now,” says Mike Woodley, president of Woodley Architectural Group. “It’s not about the quantity of space, but the quality of the space. The row homes at Citron exemplify that it’s possible to have an incredibly functional and comfortable house under 1,300 square feet.”
Designed for buyers who seek flexibility and a step up from an attached product, homes in the centrally located Nova community by Woodside Homes range from 1,754 to 2,296 square feet of living space across two floors, and three to four bedrooms with the option to add a fifth bedroom, plus two-and-a-half or three baths, with an optional fourth from the low $500,000s.
Featuring great rooms oriented to the street, the homes designed by Bassenian Lagoni are arranged in a six-pack, motor court configuration that offers pocket rear yards as well as streaming daylight on all four sides. The arrangement offers privacy and allows for light-filled living spaces that work around the site’s density for the best use of the limited square footage. A bonus room off the staircase adapts to varying lifestyle needs—such as a gathering space for children during social events—and downstairs, a multipurpose den comfortably and privately accommodates overnight guests. Decorated in a bright and playful palette, each plan includes a kitchen island with seating for casual dining.
The architecture harkens back to Corona’s agricultural roots, but is also forward thinking in its livability and lifestyle, notes Steven Dewan, principal at Bassenian Lagoni, who led the design for phase one’s Nova and Whitney neighborhoods as well as five projects in Bedford’s next phase.
“As you go up in density, you need to come up with innovative solutions to do that. In this case, the motor court concept offers detached living with a true rear yard,” he says.
Tucked into the southern perimeter of the plan, Bedford’s newest offering, Parson, is the first reveal from the second phase of homes, and emulates Nova’s motor-court arrangement, but in clusters of eight that eliminate wasted space or lost daylight in traditionally aligned homes. Two of those plans, designed by JZMK Partners and ranging from 1,631 to 2,031 square feet, will include designated tech spaces for those working from home, and the third plan squeezes en-suite baths into each of its three bedrooms. Each of the plans include two garages and are priced from the mid $400,000s.
“Our vision was to create something that stood apart in quality, design, and attainability. Parson is the latest addition to that vision,” says Webb.
This second phase will move toward the development’s goal of reaching 1,600 homes at build-out with six new products, including small-lot detached homes, three-story townhomes, and a detached triplex with green courts, he adds.
Outdoor InteractionsThe inspiration behind Bedford was to create a gated village where connectivity, social lifestyles, and community were the key, says New Home Co.’s chief marketing officer Joan Webb, who had a hand in the design of each community’s products. “We wanted to find a way of getting people outside and connected, which we strived to do through our amenity complexes and design strategies, such as connecting trailheads and hiking paths,” she says. “When you get into this level of density and price point, you begin to understand the significance of amenities and outdoor venues—they become true and valuable extensions of the families’ private spaces.”
Those extensions will soon encompass the wider Corona community. Nearby, an estimated 10 acres have been earmarked for new retail, office, entertainment, lodging, and other commercial businesses in the Bedford Marketplace, which plans to open by 2021. The Crossings at Corona and the Shops at Dos Lagos also offer restaurants, shopping, and entertainment options that are located just a few minutes away.
According to a 2018 Metrostudy report, home construction in the Inland Empire is at a 10-year high, which is encouraging developers and builders—including New Home Co.—as well as local businesses, to continue their investment in the community.
“We’ll continue building and shaping this community with hope that the neighborhoods inside and outside Bedford are going to reap the benefits for years to come,” says Jarvis.