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Developer Starts Ramona Housing Project

Posted by KirE Builders Inc on August 23, 2011
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By Hailey Persinger, UNION TRIBUNE

Sallie McKelvey has been waiting since 2007 for new neighbors to move into the backcountry neighborhood she shares with eight other families.

Now, four years after she moved into Black Canyon Estates in Ramona, she’s gearing up to welcome them to the neighborhood that’s been on hold since 2005. The development at Black Canyon and Stokes roads was originally slated to be the site of dozens of 3,000-plus square-foot homes. The zoning began in the early 1990s, and Pacific Heritage Homes bought the property with hopes of turning it into a neighborhood with gargantuan homes on lots to match. Parcels were mapped out, improvements were made and several homeowners signed on to be the first in the neighborhood. Model homes were built and people started to move in.

Then the money ran out.

That’s when a bank took over and the project went dark. The land had been graded and lots were ready for building. When the project stalled, it left the area desolate. Jeff Gan with ReMax in Ramona said the property sat that way until this spring when KirE Companies, a development group with a track record of buying defunct properties and reviving them, purchased Black Canyon Estates and embarked on a plan to get the development moving again.
Josh Santa, head of KirE Companies, said the neighborhood needed a fresh start and as a Ramona resident, he could think of no one better than his own company to resurrect the project. Homes like McKelvey’s 3,450-square-foot house are no longer part of the plan. In their place will be 35 smaller homes that cap at about 2,300 square feet and sit on 2-acre lots. Prices will top out at around $475,000.

KirE’s first model home opened in late July and another is set to be finished within the next month. To the developer, purchasing the neighborhood is a way to capitalize on the growth of Ramona, which is also experiencing a retail renaissance in its small downtown as people leave San Diego proper for country tranquility. For residents who have already lived there for years, it heralds a change from sleepy backcountry neighborhood to what could become a multigenerational community.

“A lot of people wouldn’t like this but we’re happy to see Ramona expanding out there into the country,” McKelvey said of the notion the growth means chaos and barking dogs, which she notes the neighborhood still has none of. “People tend not to want change, but … you can have the quaintness of Ramona and have the beauty of this little community out here where we live.”

KirE Companies has now taken two stalled projects under its corporate wing. In May, one month after the company set up shop in Poway, the developer purchased City Square in Escondido. The townhome complex at Second Avenue and Centre City Parkway had been on hold since 2008 after Bank of America took over the project. At that point, only 18 of the proposed 102 units had been completed and, like Black Canyon Estates, the 3.6-acre site sat otherwise empty with little hope of being completed.

When KirE took over, the plan changed from 102 homes to 84, and construction is under way.hailey.persinger@uniontrib.com (760) 752-6761; Twitter @haileyeriCopyright 2011 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

By Hailey Persinger, U-T

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