http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2011/01/07/a-farm-no-more-houses-spring-up


Mountain View Voice

News - January 7, 2011

A farm no more, houses spring up

Build time for "Enclave at Waverly Park" to depend on market demand

by Daniel DeBolt

The beloved pumpkin patch and farm on Grant Road is long gone and a new 53-unit housing development there is starting to take shape. It's also caused an unusual situation where some neighbors were given free land to extend their driveways and front yards.

The situation is the byproduct of the project's re-alignment of Levin Avenue to meet Covington Road at a new four-way stoplight at Grant Road. That meant a little triangular piece of Levin Avenue no longer needs to be a street, and the city has decided to give half of that street portion to the four existing homes next door.

The 15-acre "Enclave at Waverly Park" was approved by the City Council on June 30, 2009. But before 2010's holiday break, the City Council voted to "vacate" half of Levin Avenue to the four neighboring homes, located on Levin just east of LaSalle Drive.

Those properties will soon extend out to where the middle of Levin Avenue is now, while the southern half of the street portion will be part of a small city-owned and maintained open space, which includes some heritage oak trees.

Two of the homes will now have room for significantly larger front yards, while the two on each end will likely see more of their portions used for a pair of shared driveways, now that the street will no longer run in front of the homes.

The Voice was unable to contact the homeowners by its press deadline, but a renter of one of the homes said there were some concerns about the new responsibilities that would come with the new property. SummerHill Homes spokesperson Katia Kamengar said SummerHill had been working closely with those homeowners over the last month to alleviate those concerns.

The strange situation uncovered the fact that most homeowners in the city have rights to the half of the street directly in front of their homes, according to Jacqueline Solomon, deputy public works director.

Kamengar said work on the Levin Avenue re-alignment would not begin until the end of the year, or maybe even next year, to minimize the neighborhood's exposure to ongoing construction.

The realignment of Levin Avenue has been the most controversial aspect of the design, but not among Mountain View residents. While it is generally agreed that the change will relieve traffic in Mountain View, Los Altos officials opposed the idea, saying it would dump traffic into their city.

Construction phasing

Kamengar said construction of the homes will be "phased in based on market demand," which means that only when six homes are sold will six new ones be built. It's a common practice during the recession now that banks are wary of offering developers large loans to built large projects, Kamengar said.

But SummerHill is optimistic that the homes will all be sold within two years, based on the recent success of its Satake Estates development not far away at the end of Marilyn Drive.

Prices will range from $1.5 to $1.9 million for the homes, which range in size from three bedrooms and 2,500 square feet to six bedrooms and 3,000 square feet, on lots that are about 8,000 square feet each. Most will be two-story homes, while 11 will be single-story homes.

Like most residential developments nearby, the project will have a cement wall along Grant Road, but includes a double row of fruit trees in front of it. Kamengar said that design element was discussed at length with city staffers, who wanted to avoid having individual driveways open onto busy Grant Road.

Despite the wall, the project will better connect the surrounding neighborhood, pushing through many streets that once met a dead end at the farm property.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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