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Weak return to building
100-acre annexation eyed for east side
Scaffolding wraps around one of the new Norwood Heights subdivision homes being constructed at Richland Avenue and Winthrop Lane. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

A smattering of home construction activity is occurring in Ceres, mostly within projects that were approved but not finished before the housing market slowdown triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis that hit in 2007.

Construction has taken place to finish up the 53-lot Norwood Heights at Richland Avenue and Winthrop Lane. Ten homes of 1,971 square feet are under construction on condensed lots ranging from $217,900 to $274,900. The subdivision has been popular with first-time homebuyers and buyers on a budget.

"They're just kind of finishing that last phase right by Richland Avenue," said Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development. "It was approved back in 2005."

Building is finishing up the 21-lot second phase Envision Homes' The Terrace at Dow Ranch on Richard Way between Central Avenue and Richland Avenue. Several years back the 46-lot project was approved for separate phases of 25 and 21 homes.

New construction is still scant in Ceres. In 2012 the city of Ceres processed no permits for buildings of single-family residential units. That number climbed to nine in 2013, 50 in 2014 and 40 in 2015.

Projects in Eastgate that were unfinished right after the housing market crash have been finished up, said Westbrook.

Kiper Homes has largely wrapped up The Corners at Eastgate. Construction permits were issued for 18 homes range from 1,907 to 2,272 square feet. The Corners at Eastgate is adjacent to Samuel Vaughn Elementary School.

Florsheim Homes' Bing Cherry Estates subdivision, which was approved in 2006, is now finished. The company had 39 unfinished lots south of Hatch Road and west of Eastgate Boulevard but completed them in the last year.

There is currently no construction taking place on Ceres' west side. The owner of approximately 79 lots in Westpointe #4 subdivision - represented by the large vacant field south of Whitmore Avenue and west of Malik Drive - is not proceeding with his project. The city gave approval last year to remove a housing restriction condition to make way for construction.

"They were going to come right in and build and all that I've heard is the developer that kind of went through that process that was interested in building those homes decided not to move forward and so now the subdivision is for sale," said Westbrook.

Another project that could come to fruition is Tuscany Village south of Whitmore Avenue between Blaker and Morgan roads where 40 senior retirement residential lots were included with a strip shopping center. Despite being approved in 2005, only one commercial building has been constructed.

Westbrook noted, however, that his staff is expected to go before the Ceres City Council on Feb. 22 to contract with a firm to do the environmental and complete the Specific Plan and Annexation for a 100-acre annexation in east Ceres south of Whitmore Avenue for the development of housing.

"They seem to be serious about it," said Westbrook of the Alvernaz family proposing the Whitmore Ranch Annexation east of Moore Road and north of Roeding Road.

The project goes as far east as the eastern boundary of La Rosa Elementary School.

Westbrook expects the process of reaching annexation will take anywhere from a year to a year and a half.

West Landing was annexed to the city on Ceres' west side but no activity has occurred to develop it. Westbrook said because of the costs of installing the infrastructure upfront, he believes the developer is waiting for better times "before they start putting those dollars in the ground and trying to get houses sold."