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1,619 more Manteca homes?
Projects includes converting mansion into clubhouse
This is an aerial view of the 30,000-square-foot Hat Mansion being proposed as a clubhouse for a senior citizens community. - photo by Photo Contributed

Get ready for a new McMansion Era in Manteca.

But instead of oversized tract homes going up a mansion built by a grape broker could end up serving as a clubhouse for senior citizens.

Manteca is now processing development maps for five new neighborhoods encompassing 1,619 homes including the 30,000-square-foot Hat Mansion that will be converted into a clubhouse for a proposed 800-home senior citizens community.

The Hat Mansion is the largest single family residence in the South County and is visible from Highway 99 as well as from the Altamont Pass on a clear day. Of the 1,619 homes, there are 1,156 envisioned for South Manteca in the area generally southeast of Pillsbury Road and Woodward Avenue.

The most dazzling thing about the five projects, though, isn’t the opulent mansion being converted into a clubhouse. It’s the fact the five projects now moving forward through the planning process were never on the radar as specific projects before the housing balloon burst in 2006.

They include:

• Monte Bello Estates
: This is a 121-lot low density residential neighborhood planned for 30 acres behind he homes that front on Louise Avenue from Airport Way east to the railroad tracks. The developer is asking for a general plan amendment and rezone to convert land currently allowing for higher density along Airport Way to lower density.  A tentative subdivision map is being processed.

• Cooper Cove: A tentative map is being sought for the proposed 342-lot low density residential project on 64.2 acres that’s part of the Yosemite Square development on the northeast corner of the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange. The rest of the project includes 419 other housing units - mostly higher density — and an office-style business park.

• Atherton Homes Woodward Park I & II
: These are two separate neighborhoods on 111.3 acres planned for 410 single family homes immediately north of the Hat Ranch, west of Pillsbury Road, and west of the proposed southern extension of Atherton Drive south of Woodward Avenue. The developers are seeking tentative maps.

• Hat Ranch Active Adult Community
: It would convert 184 acres comprised mostly of grape vineyards into 800 age-restricted homes in a development almost half exactly half the size of Del Webb at Woodbridge in north Manteca. The 30,000 clubhouse — originally built as a mansion — would be slightly larger than its Del Webb counterpart. The clubhouse would be surrounded by softball fields, tennis courts and bocce courts. The Hat Ranch — now owned by Richland Communities - would have to be annexed to the city.

The three-story mansion has a wine cellar, elevator, a 25-seat theater, tennis court and 20- by-80 foot swimming pool. Completed in 1995, the home also has a 36-car parking garage underneath it. Material used in the interior design includes Brazilian cherry wood, Douglas fir, limestone, granite, marble and custom made stainless steel doors. It has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

Michael Hat, a 1972 Ripon High graduate, is a grape grower and broker. Just as the house was completed the wine market went into a nosedive. Hat at the time was considered to rank among the top five grape growers in California.

Hat filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The home was put up for sale and was listed for $12.2 million in 2003.

When the home didn’t sell, it went the way of other foreclosures — an auction on the courthouse steps in Stockton.

There were two serious bidders — AKF Development and Richland Communities. AKF was toying with the idea of building an 18-hole golf course around the mansion and converting it into a clubhouse and events center. The rest of the land was envisioned for single family homes.

A bidding war ensued with Richland prevailing at $8 million.

After discovering sewer allocations were years away and the housing market cooling, Richland tried to sell the home and 184 acres for $9.9 million in 2009.