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Black Mountain Ranch opening second and final subdivision

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Del Sur, the second and final subdivision of the 4,677-acre Black Mountain Ranch master plan in the city's northern region, is scheduled to open June 17.

The 1,800-acre Del Sur plan between Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Santa Fe will have more than 3,000 homes at build out with approximately 2,581 single-family attached and detached homes, plus 469 affordable apartments and homes. Some 6,000 to 7,000 residents are expected to call Del Sur home.

The Black Mountain Ranch community is being developed by Black Mountain Ranch LLC, which is controlled by the St. Paul Travelers Insurance Co., Standard Pacific Homes and Institutional Housing Partners.

The first subdivision of Black Mountain Ranch is Santaluz -- which has about 850 homes -- and is largely built out with all lots sold and only a few homes left to build. Santaluz was noteworthy for its round residential lots.

The first neighborhood builders in Del Sur include Standard Pacific Homes (NYSE: SPF), Davidson Communities of Del Mar, Shea Homes, William Lyon Homes (NYSE: WLS), John Laing Luxury Homes (which was just acquired by a United Arab Emirates firm), Baywood Homes and McCullough-Ames of San Diego.

Fred Maas, Black Mountain president and CEO, said the floor plans of the homes are expected to range from three to six bedrooms in about 1,500 to about 3,500 square feet. The homes will be situated on lots ranging from about 6,000 square feet to about 1.5 acres. The prices will begin in the $600,000s and extend into the low million-dollar ranges.

The affordable units of Del Sur will be available to those making 60 percent of the median income. The median income figure may change but is currently about $64,000 per year for a family of four in the county.

Maas said much of the inspiration for the development came from the Mission Hills community of San Diego.

"We kept going back to Mission Hills. That became a mantra for us," he said.

Del Sur also will include more than 500,000 square feet of office development.

"This little submarket is quite hot right now," Maas said, noting the nearby successes of Kilroy Realty's Santa Fe Summit where Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) will be occupying about 466,000 square feet of office space; and Seabreeze Properties' Plaza 56 development where the first of four 100,000-square-foot buildings is under way. Maas said the vacancy in the Highway 56 corridor is less than 5 percent today.

Maas said it is too early to tell how much preleasing will be necessary to satisfy his lenders, but said the strength of the market should keep the level low.

"It's possible we'll start this in '07 or '08," he said.

Del Sur will have a town center "with the feel of Old San Diego," Maas said. The town center is planned for about 120,000 square feet and is likely to include a major upscale market.

There will be two schools: an elementary school in the middle and a high school on the border that Black Mountain Ranch shares with 4S Ranch. The high school will be developed jointly by Black Mountain Ranch and 4S owner Newland Communities.

Del Sur will have eight parks (many with pools), 18 miles of trails throughout and a 200-seat amphitheater.

The plan is also approved for a 300-room resort hotel, but Maas says now is not the time to build it. Plans also call for a 200-acre 18-hole championship golf course, but Maas again suggested he would like to see Del Sur further along before committing to that portion of the project. A championship Rees Jones-designed golf course anchors the Santaluz development.

A focal point of the Del Sur development is the newly completed 3,000-square-foot Del Sur Ranch House, which serves as a welcome center for the project and is intended as a clubhouse and meeting place for the community.

Done in a rustic style, the building was designed following LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design) certification standards.

The building, which features timber from a 125-year-old Pennsylvania barn and wood from a Portland, Ore., pier, has a lot of recycled materials, ranging from sunflower husks for countertops to recycled waste from blue jeans for insulation.

The building also has photovoltaic cells masking as roof tiles, as well as direct access to electricity generated from wind power. Those two sources make up 100 percent of the building's power needs.

The building also has recycled water systems for irrigation, and low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets to maximize water savings.

Maas said there are only a handful of Platinum Level LEED buildings in the entire country, and the Ranch House is on-line to receive this highest of designations.

Outside, during a brief tour of the Del Sur development, Maas said landscaping will be the glue that makes a living community rather than a sea of concrete.

He pointed to a still-barren hillside.

"You have to imagine what this is going to look like in a few years," Mass said. "It's going to be fantastic."

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