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Lincoln Crossing developer takes lead on Bickford

By: Gus Thomson, Gold Country News Service
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Bickford Ranch developer U.S. Home has taken on a high-profile partner to build its 1,890-unit residential project near Newcastle. SunCal Companies and U.S. Home subsidiary Lennar Communities announced last week they will jointly develop Bickford Ranch. The two are both major nationwide developers of master-planned communities. The plan for Bickford Ranch, located on 1,942 acres between Lincoln and Newcastle, includes a golf course, several housing types, 25 acres of parkland and a 10-acre commercial site. SunCal, which recently built the Lincoln Crossing development off Highway 65 in western Placer County, will take on the role of master developer at Bickford Ranch once construction begins. It currently has more than 90,000 residential lots in various stages of development throughout the state. SunCal will develop a total of 970 of the development's home sites. Tovey Giezentanner, Bickford spokesman, said the company would also take a lead role in infrastructure construction. "SunCal's involvement will help Lennar as we work together to achieve the vision we have for Bickford Ranch, and will help bring the community's many public benefits to the region," said Brian Bombeck, Lennar Communities senior vice president. The major portion of SunCal's work will take place to develop 648 single-family home sites in seven distinct villages within the Bickford acreage. Lot sizes will range from 7,125 to 16,500 square feet. SunCal will also build 66 townhouses, a 106-unit site designated for affordable housing, 150 custom home sites on one-acre-minimum lots, and a community swim and fitness center. SunCal Northern California Division President Bill Myers said in a prepared statement that the company is excited to be a partner on Bickford with Lennar Communities on a project that "will bring one of the finest master-planned communities to Northern California." Lennar's involvement at Bickford Ranch will center around construction of Heritage Ridge, a 920-unit active-adult community comparable to Lincoln's Sun City at the center of the site. Heritage Ridge will feature homes ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet. The amenities will include a private recreation center, including fitness, swimming and social activity facility. A lawsuit now before the state Appeals Court on environmental approvals by the county at the Bickford site isn't currently holding up development of the project, Giezentanner said. Pre-construction work is continuing to take place on the land. Home construction could start as early as next spring, he said. The town of Loomis and the Sierra Club are both fighting the project's environmental approvals in court. Attorney Donald Mooney, the special counsel hired by Loomis for the appeals court case, said Tuesday that the partnership agreement between SunCal and Lennar would have no impact on the case. Because SunCal joined in after the suit was lodged, it wouldn't be co-joined to the action in the future, he said. Town Councilman Guy Fuson said that the appeals court dispute is still under discussion among litigants. Traffic issues have been a major concern for the two. Loomis wants a more thorough impact report on surrounding roads and discussions are "going forward," he said.
- Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.