Richard Lane needs a builder to replace his burned Coffey Park home. Along with his neighbors, he has plenty of choices.
At least a half-dozen home construction companies are offering to rebuild houses in the northwest Santa Rosa neighborhood, where more than 1,300 homes were destroyed in October by a historic wildfire.
Lane, a former theatrical fight choreographer, and his wife are leaning toward hiring Tux Tuxhorn, the same developer who originally built their two-story Crimson Lane house. The former city planning commissioner even lived in the home for almost 15 years, from 1991 to 2004.
Neighbors introduced the two men at a meeting a few weeks after the fires. After a few conversations with Tuxhorn, Lane told his wife, Alison, “Even in this darkest hour, someone is offering us a flashlight.”
Many Coffey Park survivors still don’t know exactly how much their insurance companies will provide them to rebuild their tract homes in that compact middle-class neighborhood. Nor do most know how much they must pay a builder to actually construct the houses.
But at least they know that construction companies are vying for their business.
The builders include local firms like Gallaher Homes, Synergy Communities by Christopherson and APM Homes, as well as DeNova Homes of Concord and Stonefield Companies from Southern California.
The businesses are taking different approaches. Some are limiting their efforts to those streets where they or family members previously built homes, with a plan to essentially rebuild the same house designs. Others plan to build throughout the neighborhood, some touting new floor plans and others offering to work with residents to develop new designs.
For now, construction prices remain mostly in flux as builders try to pin down costs for labor, site preparation, and home designs.
But one builder, Gallaher Homes, has influenced the discussion on prices by announcing on the company’s Bring Back Coffey Park website that it will build new homes and provide construction financing with a local bank for a total of $280 a square foot. For property owners, that figure provides an important reference point after hearing talk that the work could exceed $400 per square foot — far surpassing what many say their insurance policies will cover.
Gallaher Homes, owned by longtime Santa Rosa builders Bill and Cindy Gallaher, also has said it will buy cleaned lots in the neighborhood for between $105,000 and $125,000. And it has arranged to offer construction loans and mortgages through Poppy Bank, formerly First Community Bank, where Bill Gallaher is a co-founder and chairman of the board.
In response to Gallaher’s pronouncement, other builders have said they expect to match or beat a price of $280 per square foot.
“It’s great to have choices,” said Jeff Okrepkie, a neighborhood leader.
Okrepkie, board chairman of the Coffey Strong neighborhood rebuilding group, said of the various builders, “There’s different niches they will fill.”
October’s wildfires were the most destructive in U.S. history, with insured damages estimated $7.5 billion in Sonoma County. The fires claimed 44 lives in Northern California, including 24 in Sonoma County.
The county lost more than 5,100 homes, including nearly 3,000 in Santa Rosa, roughly 5 percent of the city’s housing stock.
Coffey Park Chronicles
More business coverage of the North Bay fires and recovery: nbbj.news/2017fires