Small Town Charms May Be Big Selling Point - NBC 7 San Diego
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Small Town Charms May Be Big Selling Point

The Village of Escaya is a 450-acre development in Otay Ranch featuring a variety of home styles and amenities

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    Rendering courtesy of HomeFed Corp.
    The Village of Escaya will include a community park. Rendering courtesy of HomeFed Corp.

    A new community that is a mini city of sorts is taking shape in eastern Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch with a goal of re-creating the feel of older small towns but with the amenities modern homebuyers want at a price they can afford.

    The Village of Escaya was designed from the outset to have a different look to it, with parks scattered throughout, meandering paths to encourage people to leave their cars and walk the community, a mix of housing styles, retail shops, a community park and an elementary school site — all meant to give it that sense of neighborhood, said Kent Aden, vice president and senior development manager of HomeFed Corp.

    “Escaya really took a different thematic approach,” said Raine Hunter, principal of RH Consulting Group.

    “The street scene is really eclectic and interesting. You kind of get away from that monotony of every third house rotating a floor plan,” Hunter said. “It has a different feel, like it was built over time.”

    HomeFed is developing the 450-acre project in partnership with Brookfield Residential, Lennar Corp. and Shea Homes.

    “This is HomeFed’s calling card into Otay Ranch,” Hunter said. “It’s their first development in the community.”

    The Styles

    The project has nine home styles with 21 floor plans from townhomes to single-family homes.

    “The idea is if a buyer comes in, we’ll have something for everyone,” Aden said.

    Escaya also mixes up the design of the homes to avoid the cookie-cutter look of some newer developments that cluster all the homes by a single builder in one section.

    In Escaya, homes of various designs by the three builders on the project are mixed together, and the architecture shifts, with stucco still the dominant exterior finish but with a scattering of homes with wood siding mixed in.

    That, too, is meant to evoke the feel of an old-time small-town neighborhood.

    “You could probably drive down a street for blocks without seeing another house like your house,” Aden said.

    Starting at $400,000

    Prices start at just over $400,000 for townhomes of 1,287 square feet with bigger homes of 3,138 square feet to 3,704 square feet starting at just under $700,000.

    Some of the larger homes also have so-called granny flats, or casitas, which are almost like their own apartments that can be used by extended families or renters.

    Monthly homeowner association fees are $125, Aden said, and he said there’s a monthly community facility fee that varies depending on the size of a home. The community facility fee goes toward providing new schools for the neighborhood.

    Apartments in the Mix

    In addition to for-sale homes, Escaya will have 272 rental apartments in a mixed-use village center that will include retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. The apartments will begin leasing in the summer with lease rates still to be set, Aden said.

    A network of pathways weaves through Escaya connecting to the Otay Ranch trail system to give the community a walkable feel.

    Among the more prominent amenities is a two-story fitness center that offers group exercise and yoga classes on the first floor with heavy-duty workout equipment on the upper level and a large swimming pool with a separate section for lap swimming and a children’s pool.

    Overlooking the pool is a 3,700 square-foot clubhouse that includes a chef’s kitchen.

    Still under construction is an eight-acre community park with six kiddie soccer fields, a full-sized basketball court and an outdoor amphitheater.

    The project also includes an elementary school site, and a Boys & Girls Club.

    Land Is Big Draw

    Developers such as HomeFed are drawn to South County for a simple reason — there’s land to build on, said Mark Goldman, a market analyst with C2 Financial Group.

    “So much of San Diego County is already developed and homes can be developed down there at affordable pricing. It does seem to be the path of development,” Goldman said. “Other areas are much more infill sort of development.”

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