Lennar’s first Hitachi homes get ready to hit the market

One of the townhome communities from Lennar at the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies site.

One of the townhome communities from Lennar at the Hitachi Global Storage Technologies site.

Eighteen months after acquiring a 40-acre development site in South San Jose,Lennar Corp. is coming out of the ground with its first models and anticipates opening its sales office within weeks.

The construction on Lennar’s master-planned community, now called Avenue One, represents a significant milestone for the redevelopment of the huge, 330-acre campus formerly owned by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. The chunk of land — the largest infill site in the region— is entitled for nearly 3,000 units and 320,000 square feet of retail. Located at Cottle Road and Highway 85, it’s near the Blossom Hill Caltrain station and Santa Teresa light-rail station.

“We’ve got five different neighborhoods planned, and we’re coming out this year with four of them,” said Gordon Jones, Lennar Northern California Division President. “It’s truly a master-planned community with amenity features you just don’t find here. It’s very unique.”

Lennar is building 450 three-, four- and five-bedroom homes to start, with the first deliveries forecast for mid- to late-summer of this year. Another 190 or so will get started later, within the next 24 months. Lennar is aiming for a more amenity-rich project, with a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse and fitness center, as well as a pool and spa.

Lennar’s project is also notable because it includes two single-family-detached home communities comprising about 100 homes, in addition to two townhome communities that include about 350 homes.

Single-family detached, especially the two-story variety that Lennar is building, is considered the holy grail for homebuilders in the Bay Area for its ability to command high prices. But gaining approvals is difficult given today’s emphasis on density in city planning departments.

“It’s very rare,” Jones said. “Because of our master plan, we were able to push density to certain places where it makes sense in the area, to enable other places to have lower density.”

Pricing has not been determined, but new Bay Area townhomes are going from the high-$600,000s to mid-$700,000s. New single-family detached homes, meanwhile, are selling in the low-$800,000s up to the $1 million mark in some cases.

Lennar also has entitlements for 200 more residential units, which it will convey to an affordable housing developer to satisfy affordable requirements.

Lennar is not the only project moving dirt. Sacramento-based St. Anton Partners is doing a 275-unit apartment complex as well. Cupertino-based Hunter Properties is under construction on the retail component, a center called Village Oaks. And Orange County-based City Ventures has recently begun the entitlement process for a 550-unit project on 13 acres.

Lennar is also active throughout the region, with projects in San Jose, Los Altos and Fremont.

The homebuilder, which is the second-largest nationally by revenue, reported net income of $164.1 million in December, compared with $124.3 million a year earlier, thanks in part to rising home prices.


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