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The vision: Santana Row style neighborhood
santa row
One of the three Santana Row apartment complexes in San Jose. - photo by Photo Contributed

Mike Atherton  — a developer with Manteca roots extending back to the 1980s who led the charge to build homes south of the 120 Bypass — sees a lifestyle change in the community’s future.

Atherton and others he is partnering with see Manteca as not just an underserved market in terms of non-free standing single family homes but one ideally situated thanks to changing demographics and location to build the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s first mixed-use development in the same vein as Santana Row in San Jose.

That doesn’t mean emulating Santana Row exactly in terms of its target market that feeds of a teeming tech city economy where apartment complexes in the mixed used development are fetching $2,455 to $3,000 a month for a one bedroom, one bathroom flat and offers one bedroom, one bathroom penthouse flats with 958 square feet starting at $4,003 a month.

But it does mean tapping into the Bay Area’s growing impact on Manteca as well as the national trend that is seeing more Santana Row type complexes that single and childless millenniums with fairly well paying jobs are flocking to as well as older people whose children have moved out that are looking for a place they can live and access dining, entertainment/gym options, shopping, and community life after they get home from work without having to get back into a car. In other words, they want to be able to walk to such amenities just as they might in an urbanized setting.

Nationally, there are more suburbs near major urban centers such as Dallas and Atlanta that are seeing such developments because  they are more affordable than what is being built in the heart of urban areas.  It is essentially serving an urban workforce that wants the urban lifestyle but can’t afford  urban rents.

It is similar to the game plan Cambay Group plans to pursue when they get around to developing the town center for the 11,000-hoem River Islands at Lathrop planned community.

A Manteca version of such a mixed use development is still in the talking stages. If it occurs, Atherton sees a mixture of 600 so apartments with restaurants and shops on land where almond trees now stand south of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley between  the 120 Bypass and Atherton Drive.

Atherton likes to refer to the idea as “Atherton Town.”

It doesn’t mean Atherton and the various partners he has on projects are abandoning single family homes — far from it. They are going full-bore on  prepping ground on more homes south of Atherton Drive and east of Pillsbury Road just a half mile from Woodward Park. Atherton along with Toni Raymus of Raymus Homes are part of a group of developers pushing forward with Griffin Park south of Woodward Avenue and west of Main Street that is planned for 1,532 homes.

Atherton is no stranger to apartments. His firm built the Park Place Apartments on Crom Street in the 1980s. He was part of the partnership that built and owns the 298-unit Paseo Villas that started renting in 2006. And he’s part of the team building the 164-unit Tesoro Apartments that is now under construction at Atherton Drive and Van Ryn Avenue between the Paseo Villas and Juniper Apartments.

As far as his ideas and that of his partners being pie-in-the-sky consider this — they were the architects of the land deal that brought Orchard Valley and Bass Pro Shops to Manteca. They took the shuttered 362-acre Spreckels Sugar refinery that everyone except them viewed as undevelopable and turned it into an economic juggernaut for the city in terms of business park jobs and retail. They came up with the Union Ranch specific plan that landed Del Webb at Woodbridge. They were the ones that offered Manteca arguably the sweetest deal of the 20th century that sold the city 52 acres for $1 so Manteca could develop Woodward Park.

Atherton isn’t the only developer that believes the time is right for more apartments in Manteca. Developers are in the permit stage for the 128-unit Woodbridge Apartments at 925 West Lathrop Road behind the Woodbridge Center East anchored by CVS Pharmacy as well as to the north and east for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District water tank  along Lathrop Road.

A San Jose developer is working to move forward with Diamond Villas — a 43-unit gated townhouse project approved in the 600 and 700 blocks of Lincoln Avenue to replace dilapidated housing. Planned as rentals, the townhouses will range in size from 1,881 to 2,231 square feet.

When it comes to the region, Manteca’s 19.2 percent of multi-family units in communities over 20,000 is one of the lowest topped only by Tracy at 17.56 percent. That is lower than the United States at 31.8 percent, California at 38.0 percent, Stockton at 33.7 percent, and Lodi at 35.2 percent.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email