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The Comeback of the Master Plan
Spring Mountain Ranch Seen as a Top Master Plan

Steve Magee, executive vice president of iStar, said when he started in the building industry, his goal was to build quality homes. He moved from protege to mentor in the past 30 years. Magee was a featured speaker at the Urban Land Institute Orange County/Inland Empire "The Comeback of the Master Plan" event at Presidio Point Model Home Complex in Riverside, Calif. on November 19.

After enduring several years of stagnation within the building industry, master planned communities are once again becoming a viable option. That was the message as the Urban Land Institute/Orange County/Inland Empire hosted "The Comeback of the Master Plan" event at Presidio Point Model Home Complex in Riverside, Calif. on November 19.

Ron Loveridge, director of Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, moderated the discussion of four experts. "I recently attended a California summit in Ontario and they came up with three objectives for the next decade," said Loveridge. "We'll need to develop a million more skilled workers. We'll need to come up with a million more acre/feet of water; and we need to build a million more homes."

Loveridge said developers have to take into consideration smart growth, new urbanism and sustainability within master planned communities. People want to have access to the amenities of a community such as horse trails, parks and fields. There's a quest to find out where developers stand in Southern California within the master planned communities.

"Even though we loaned out a lot of money for projects, we're not sure what we were going to do with this Spring Mountain Ranch here in Riverside," said Steve Magee, executive vice president of iStar. "The residential market had fallen apart and we needed to evaluate our options."

Magee said that iStar tried to bring this project to market, while trying to integrate all the approvals. Being able to comply with ever-changing regulations can be difficult.

Ryan Dierking, project manager of Sitescapes, was the landscape architect for the project. He said the original master plan was completed in 2004. After the site was graded that year, it sat fallow for a long time.

"You look at the topography and it's amazing," said Dierking. "We saw the need to bring hills into the project. It had an agrarian feel and we wanted to make a statement with the rock walls throughout here."

California Governor Jerry Brown has mandated that by 2020 all new homes have a Net Zero Impact. Every year we need to use 33 percent less energy in the home, said Steve Ruffner, Southern California president of KB Homes.

"We enjoy being a part of a master plan," said Ruffner. "For us this Spring Mountain Ranch was a field of dreams, but it just started out as a field of dirt. We wanted to have a working relationship with iStar and understand what they wanted. We wanted to craft a partnership."

For a time the brokerage community was not a happy group. After housing and property values peaked in 2006, the recession caused home building to become a losing proposition, according to Jeffrey Spindler, CEO of Land Advisors Organization/California Division.

"In California the number of deals is off 36 percent from last year at this time," said Spindler. "Property values have not come back to the levels they were in 2013. We'll see deals increase if there are lower levels of expectations on return of investments."

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May 19, 2019, 8:30 am PDT

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