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River Islands home sales start Saturday

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River Islands home sales start Saturday

A home is being built at River Islands at Lathrop near an interior lake.

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

POSTED May 15, 2014 1:48 a.m.

Some $150 million plus and 25 years later the biggest — and arguably most well-planned community in the San Joaquin Valley — is ready to sell homes.

Builder Del Nova is opening model homes at River Islands at Lathrop on Saturday. The soft opening is designed to accommodate the more than 600 potential buyers who placed their names on interest lists with the three firms building the first homes.

At build-out the 10,800-home planned community will have more people living there than the current population of Lathrop and Ripon combined. Along the way the developer – Cambray Group a wholly owned subsidiary of Somerston Holdings based in the United Kingdom — cleared hurdles that would have stopped less well financed firms not willing to tackle the challenge of creating such a large project that essentially painted a bulls-eye on it in regulation heavy and litigation prone California.

The firm beat back a slew of environmental lawsuits including one accusing it of accelerating global warming to the point that former foes have praised its efforts to restore ecological systems and to mitigate various impacts.

Cambay Group secured reliable water supplies, addressed flooding issues that have perplexed the state for decades by building super levees, and set in place a plan to provide an unprecedented 14 miles of universal public access to the San Joaquin River and adjoining Delta habitat.

And even details such as schools have already left their mark. Not only is what River Islands did in building a school and having it up and running even before the first house was built unheard of for a new development, but the River Islands Technology Academy has gotten a lot of attention for its innovations. So much that California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is touring the campus at noon on Monday.

“It should take us about 25 years until the last home is built,” noted Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso.

That would mean it would take longer to build out River Islands than Cambray’s previous project, the 11,000-home Dougherty Valley development in the East Bay.

The three builders — Del Nova along with Van Dale and Brookfield Homes that are on target to have model homes  completed this summer — have already taken out 50 permits for production homes.

Dell’Osso said projections are for 90 homes to be built this year with 250 homes breaking ground in 2015. Then in 2016 the target is for 500 homes with production expected to continue at that level in subsequent years.

Del Nova as of Wednesday had not priced their models nor have the other builders. Prices are expected to start in the mid-$300,000 range. Even so, at least one builder has already prequalified a number of buyers that are anxious to buy homes at River Islands.

If a deal is inked on Saturday, it wouldn’t be the first sale per se.

Ron and Susan Dell’Osso’s son’s family — Brian and wife Brittany along with their children Christian and Brayden —  have signed a contract to buy the first home although the exact price has yet to be determined. The site is on a lake where the family will have their own boat dock just like their neighbors. It is within easy walking distance of River Islands Technology Academy that opened in August with a waiting list of 200 students. They are also several doors down from the Michael Vega Park as well as a park designed not for the community per se but adults that live there. That way the clubhouse can serve alcohol for parties and other gatherings. The adult park will also have amenities such as sand volleyball courts, bocce ball, and horseshoe pits.

They also are a quarter of a mile way from access to a linear park/promenade that will wrap around River Islands overlooking the San Joaquin River and Paradise Cut. The family could go fishing on fishing piers that will be located between groupings of private boat docks on the river that will belong to the more than 900 families that will ultimately live in homes overlooking the river from atop a 300-foot wide super levee.

Their home — and others in River Bend — will reflect craftsmen styling as part of an effort by River Islands not to mix architectural types.

Also opening on Saturday is the River Islands Welcome Center.

River Islands is accessible by taking the Manthey Road exit on Interstate 5.

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