Thursday, July 29, 2004

North Village Boosting the Housing Inventory

Article Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Boosting the housing inventory

North Village finally moves ahead to provide much-needed homes

It has been a long, slow journey for a cast of would-be developers who would make something out of the dry grasslands in north Vacaville on a plot known as North Village.

A couple of commercial buildings sprang up across a parkway from Genentech's huge manufacturing plant a few years ago, raising hope that the city's last major housing tract would get under way.

Snagged in a web of environmental restrictions and a poor economy, the project started and stopped. The project was approved by the Vacaville City Council in 2001.

Now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted final environmental approval to the North Village project and grading on the site will begin. It's an important project for several reasons.

First, it will add more than 2,000 homes to a community that desperately needs new inventory. Housing prices are rising 10 percent to 20 percent a year, because of high demand and almost nonexistent supply.

Second, there is a commercial component to North Village that will help add some space for new businesses that want to cater to the Browns Valley and North Village residents.

And third, the project will comprise a new Solano Community College campus, the first institution of higher learning to make Vacaville its home. The project will provide essential infrastructure the campus needs to get under way. Although state funding for the campus is not guaranteed, the initial planning is happening. The start of the North Village project could spur movement on the campus.

Seeno Construction Co. originally was given permission to build about 2,500 homes. Instead, the developer will build around 2,200 to 2,300 homes. Seeno withdrew plans for 300 homes during negotiations with the Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional acreage for habitat.

Clearing the final environmental hurdles is a welcomed breakthrough.

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