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Manteca housing: Yosemite Square is a game changer just like Woodward Park was in 1999
yosemite square
D.R. Horton is not going to waste anytime building 797 homes on the 137 acres they have cleared of almond trees and vineyards to the northeast of the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange.

There is a new housing era coming to Manteca.

It’s a housing tract dubbed Yosemite Square.

And it is getting ready to pop up 797 homes on 137 acres that up until a few months ago was covered with almond trees and vineyards to the northeast of the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange.

It is arguably the biggest game changer in Manteca housing development since the first McMansion popped up in 1999 across from Woodward Park.

That first foundation poured along what is today Buena Vista Drive triggered a building boom that has weathered the Great Recession and a pandemic.

It was the beachhead for tract home development south of the 120 Bypass.

And it ushered in the era of 3,200 to 4,500 square-foot tract homes in Manteca on lots 7,000 square feet and more dominated by two-story homes.

Yosemite Square qualifies for game changer status for a number of reasons and it’s what you don’t see that will have the biggest impact.

They are extending sewer lines under Highway 99 into “virgin territory”, if you will, when it comes to development.

It is something subsequence housing developers without deep enough pockets to front the entire required oversizing will be able to piggyback onto.

They are not rolling out a single lot that even meets the 6,000 square foot standard Manteca  development consisted almost exclusively of from the late 1960s to late 1990s.

The 797 homes will be built on lots ranging from 3,290 to 5,250 square feet.

A 3,290 square-foot lot is several hundred square feet smaller that the first homes built at the then new Woodward Park subdivision.

They are making $11 million in offsite improvements.

It includes improvements on the western side of Austin Road, including sidewalks, to Yosemite Avenue (East Highway 120) that is not contiguous with the project. Modifications also will be made to the Yosemite/Austin interchange.

The offsite improvements are designed to avoid some of the hodge-podge approach that has plagued other county roads built to rural standards  such as Airport Way, Lathrop Road, and Louise Avenue as Manteca growth transitioned them to urban arterials.

While it ultimately will ease the long range pain, it won’t seem like that in the short range.

That’s because by the end of the year the Austin Road overcrossing will be torn down to build the first phase of a $154 million do over of the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 and the adjoining area that includes the Austin Road interchange.

And while Austin Road will have a new four-lane bridge structure within two years, the southbound off-ramp and northbound on-ramp to Highway 99 will be closed for years.

That means the future 2,800 or so residents of Yosemite Square based on household occupancy rates will have only one way to access Manteca proper or jobs in the Bay Area, Lathrop, or Tracy.

And that is East Yosemite Avenue between the Highway 99 interchange and Austin Road.

In the best case scenario that Manteca can come up with $57 million sooner than later, the ramps in question will be non-existent for close to 10 years.

The worst case scenario is they aren’t ever put in place.

Yosemite Square is expected to generate an average of 7,000 vehicle trips a day at buildout.

If you don’t think this is a big deal, drive on East Yosemite Avenue/East Highway 120 between the Highway 99 interchange and the SSJID office in the afternoon on Monday, May 27.

What you will experience is a two-mile plus traffic jam marking the end of a three-day weekend.

Now add close another 7,000 vehicle trips originating from Yosemite Square squeezing in at Austin Road as they try to access Manteca services and shopping or even the freeway.

Yes, an Austin Road bridge will be back in place after two years or so. The key ramps won’t be in, however.

You will still be able to use Austin to reach Modesto and Ripon via Highway 99.

But for everything else you are locked into East Yosemite as being the “shortest” route.

This will encourage shortcuts to reach the rest of Manteca by taking a circuitous route through south Manteca.

Depending on the day, it won’t take future residents long to figure out they can move quicker if they head north on Austin after clearing East Highway 99 and access the rest of Manteca via Louise Avenue.

Now you might think like the traffic consultant did on this one.

Namely, it’s likely to take 10 years for Yosemite Square to be built out.

Guess again.

The developer is D.R. Horton Homes.

Their business model is going whole hog, especially in strong markets.

They build homes before they are sold.

That may strike you as risky, but it helps snag a lot of buyers that can’t wait six months or more.

And it reflects how they do business. Maximize returns by selling homes as fast as you can and then moving on.

It’s really not as risky as it may seem.

That may sound counter to what you are “seeing.”

The median Manteca price for homes that are selling is $650,000 regardless of whether it was a previously owned or new construction.

Inflation is at 3.5 percent.

Mortgage rates are at 7.5 percent.

Social media and talking head “news” shows are full of gloom and doom.

People won’t be buying homes.

Game over.

Not so fast.

There were 668,000 new homes sold last year in the United States with another 4 million existing housing units bought as well.

Inflation was higher in 2023 than it is now with mortgage rates about the same.

Go back to 1979 for an even better reality check.

Inflation was at 13.3 percent, almost four times as worse.

Mortgage rates peaked in 1979 at 12.9 percent. That was much higher than today’s average 30-year mortgage rate of 7.49 percent.

And the median California home was valued at $167,300, almost exactly twice the $88,700 it was at in 1969.

And guess what? Manteca sold almost 200 new homes in 1979.

Given Manteca’s growth of 2,365 residents last year due to the greater regional economy that includes the Bay Area that the Northern San Joaquin Valley is part of economically, those 797 Yosemite Square homes are going to be sold relatively quick.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at