By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Del Webb keeps on building
Project accounts for lions share of new homes
Del Webb at Woodbridge has helped Manteca keep building and selling new homes. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Del Webb at Woodbridge for the past four years has played a pivotal role in keeping Manteca’s weakened new housing market from suffering a total collapse as it did elsewhere in San Joaquin County.

The age-restricted community - popular with many over 55 who want an active lifestyle with aggressively regulated community standards that make Del Webb neighborhoods that are 20 years old and more look just like they did when they were new - has accounted for an average of 30 percent of all new Manteca home starts since new housing construction tanked in 2006.

It has played a significant role in making Manteca the new housing leader in San Joaquin County for three straight years. In 2009, as an example, Manteca built 304 new homes to account for just fewer than 60 percent of all housing starts in San Joaquin County. The next closest jurisdiction to Manteca was Stockton with 120 housing starts.

The 1,425-home Del Webb project happened to get rolling just as the recession triggered by the mortgage meltdown hit. Del Webb buyers tend to be a bit better positioned than most other buyers due to the fact they are near retirement, typically have their previous house paid for, and do not have any children at home.

Del Webb was able to move forward on a crucial 2005 council vote that made an exemption to the 3.9 percent annual growth cap on sewer allocations for both senior housing and affordable housing.

The lone dissenter six years ago - Councilman John Harris - today said his vote in retrospect was a mistake given how things turned out.

“Del Webb has been a tremendous asset to the community,” the councilman said Friday.

Harris added that the residents are delightful and contribute to the social and economic fabric of Manteca.

What drove Harris’ vote, though, wasn’t any bias against age-restricted communities. He thought it wasn’t fair given that other developers were up against the wall on the growth cap and were battling for sewer allocations every year.

“If I were to do it all over again with the same circumstances I’d still vote the same,” Harris said. “It is a matter of fairness.”

Del Webb needed the ability to build several hundred homes a year in order to justify $18 million upfront in infrastructure and amenities. The commitment of sewer allocation five years forward had left just a handful of residential allocations available.

Mayor Willie Weatherford - who supported the growth cap exception for age-restricted housing in 2005 - noted Del Webb brought households with disposable income to Manteca just as the worst of the unemployment started hitting Manteca to push the jobless rate up past 16 percent.

The mayor said a number of businesses have noted they have a strong Del Webb clientele.

That is exactly what Pulte Homes - Del Webb developers - said occurs when one of their age-restricted neighborhoods are built in communities.

Del Webb is among a handful of builders countywide that is currently investing in infrastructure to create more lots to build homes on.