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Creating and Curating a Community


Solar eclipse over new homes

A funny thing happened along the way while developing and marketing our 15-townhome community of The Dwellings (www.thedwellingsofsoquel.com). What initially began as our local investment fund’s foray into major real estate development also became a first-hand experience in how a neighborhood is created.


My first visit to the property was over 6 years ago, as we walked its acre of weeds behind the two older houses at the front. Access was over a gravel driveway that also led to a few tarped-over outbuildings riddled with gaps where sunlight and rain poured into the sagging structures which had long since been overrun with spiders and other critters.


Towards the back of the property a ramshackle basketball hoop protruded over a crude slab that looked like it had been built with a series of hand-poured bags of cement, out in a field where gopher holes made it hazardous to wade through the tall grass and weeds.


Over time, the site was transformed with grading and foundations giving a new shape to the landscape, and the smaller of the two homes being moved onto a new foundation in a spot that provided improved access for the rest of the parcels that were created. 


The new townhomes started go up in sections, with the larger ones getting finished first. The midsize and smaller ones were then completed in their respective blocks, and we put in staging to make all the floorplans less austere as we brought the homes to market early last Summer. But it wasn’t until the first few households of buyers moved in that the place started to show real signs of life. 


It took some time for The Dwellings to catch on, with only three of the market rate homes filled by the end of last year. Our two inclusionary housing units proved a challenge to fill as well, running through the entire reservation list of 15 parties before finally finding two households that could meet the narrow criteria created by a bureaucratic qualifying process and high interest rates.


Fortunately, rates came down just enough early this year for the homes to start moving in earnest, and as they filled, we saw our development transform into a community of neighbors. Along the way, we had to adjust to the fact that we could no longer just park anywhere we wanted, because we were now parking in front of people’s driveways, which was of course a good problem to face.


Momentum has continued to build over the course of this Spring, with nine happy households moved in and our tenth sale closing in about a week. With that one, we will have officially sold out of the largest floorplan, with two of the medium and two of the small ones remaining, along with the original ranch house which has been lightly renovated to be the ideal place for someone looking to add value with their own touch.


It has been gratifying for my team to be a part of all of this, and we are excited to meet the final few households who will be fortunate enough to call this neighborhood home.

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