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River Islands offering unique lifestyle
River Islands at Lathrop project manager Susan Dell’Osso reviews site plans for the first phase of 4,300 homes. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
LATHROP — It is a summer evening at River Islands at Lathrop.

Young singles and couples have left their second floor condos above restaurants and specialty stores on the town square and are either enjoying a meal at a sidewalk bistro or are jogging through part of the 14 linear miles of parks along the edge of the San Joaquin River.

Farther north in the community on the edge of one of a series of manmade lakes, a worker is just getting home from the employment center after getting in his exercise commuting from his job using a pedal boat.

A family in a nearby more traditional neighborhood is getting ready to go for a walk but are debating whether it should be around a nearby lake, a park or the river – all of which are within a half mile’s distance.

On “the hill” - the 300-foot wide super levee - some residents in the 900 plus upscale homes are in their backyards with an unobstructed view of watching the sun set over the Altamont Hills while their counterparts on the east side of the island are gathering with friends on their patio to enjoy the moonrise over the Sierra.

“We’ve tried to create a community that will appeal to young people - singles and couples - as well as families and older people,” noted Susan Dell’Osso who serves as project manager of the 4,800 project that will include 10,800 homes, a major employment center, a town square, and traditional retail.

Part of that appeal is a robust housing mix from townhouses and condos above shops on the town square to upscale housing with unparalleled views on the river and the surrounding area.

River Islands’ designers were aware of how valley housing tends to appeal mostly to traditional families.

Great care has been taken to make River Islands appealing to young people as well.

That also includes being as green a possible whether it is mandatory moisture sensors in landscaping, mini-solar farms to power 100 housing units, restored river ecological systems, universal river access, manmade lakes throughout project, and the ability to possibly walk, bicycle, or pedal a boat to work.

Making living in River Islands as green and as low cost as possible has been a goal of Cambay Group.

The manmade lakes will be kept a clear blue with a natural filtering area to cleanse storm run-off and can only be accessed using non-fuel powered boats. They also have established the Lathrop Irrigation District in put in place their own retail power company that will be able to deliver power at 15 percent below PG&E rates.

Dell’Osso said they intend to hold until off actually building homes until the economy strengthens a bit more. The earliest River Islands now expects for homes to break ground is in 2012. The firm expects initially to build 125 homes a year to avoid flooding the housing market.

The first phase will contain 4,300 homes.

Although River Islands can trace some of its lineage back to the first proposed Gold River City in the early 1990s, River Islands at Lathrop was born in 2001 as a planned community with steps to put the entire infrastructure in place by the developer and not the city.

That planning — which includes a per home job development fee — means the 2.2 million square feet in the employment center not only won’t have growth fees but also will be able to receive incentives to locate in River Islands from the fees underwritten by home buyers.