Monday, December 25, 2006

Nice Development

Looks like this will be a beautiful place to live, and its arrival precludes, hopefully, more of the same.

Bob Shallit: Some horses, but of course
Sierra de Montserrat puts livestock amid luxury housing at Loomis project.
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 25, 2006

Curt Westwood's dream of bringing a bit of Napa Valley to rural Placer County is getting closer.

Having recently settled a yearlong legal dispute with Loomis officials, he's begun construction on the first of 62 luxury homes that will be sprinkled amid 320 acres of terraced vineyards and oak trees.

The dispute was over livestock. Town leaders insisted on allowing horses at each of Westwood's home sites. Westwood said animals would be incompatible with his vision of an unfenced pastoral setting.

The compromise: Livestock will be allowed on four of the home sites within the development, called Sierra de Montserrat.

"Sure I'm happy with it," Westwood says. "It's what I agreed to a year ago."
Town manager Perry Beck agrees that little was changed -- except the minds of some Loomis council members who initially insisted on animal-friendly zoning to preserve the town's agricultural heritage.

In the end, a majority agreed that the project's special character would be undermined if "fenced-out corrals" were allowed on each of the 5-acre parcels, Beck says.
Now that an agreement is in place, Westwood is busily paving roads, staking out vineyards and starting work on the first homes.

They'll be finished in about a year, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 square feet and priced between $3 million and $4 million. Custom homes built by others could be "several million more," he says.

That's a lot of money for a home, especially now when, as Westwood says, the housing market "stinks."

But he's convinced it will rebound by the time his project is completed.

"Downturns come," he says, "and downturns turn around."