Spec homes in Fountaingrove burn area of Sonoma County hit the market
A new four-bedroom house with picturesque views of Santa Rosa sits atop Fountaingrove on Rocky Knoll Way.
It will soon mark something of a milestone in Fountaingrove: the first house built and sold in the neighborhood on a burned lot purchased from a homeowner who pulled up stakes after the October 2017 wildfires, real estate agent Meaghan Creedon said.
A Feb. 10 open house drew 250 people, Creedon said. She counted about 100 at a subsequent event and expects the house to be off the market by the end of February.
While some attendees might only have been looking for inspiration to design their own homes, Creedon points to those high attendance figures as evidence that the Tubbs fire — which ripped over the hills from Calistoga and destroyed 1,586 Fountaingrove homes — has not scared away potential new residents.
“It is a phenomenon, is what I can say,” Creedon said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Creedon is working with Stone Point Construction, based near Sacramento, to list a house per month on 13 lots in burned areas. The speculative home construction operation could create up to 30 new Fountaingrove homes on burned lots bought from former residents and sold to new ones, she said.
This means keeping an eye out for flat lots with great views put on the market by former homeowners deciding to move on after the fires.
Stone Point likely won’t be the only “spec builder” in Santa Rosa working hard in Fountaingrove this year, as other developers have been buying up fire lots and readying developments of their own. Fountaingrove is home to the greatest number of burned lots listed so far, with 336 put up for sale by the end of 2018. More than half of the Fountaingrove fire lots put on the market have been sold, with 197 changing hands through December, according to the Compass real estate brokerage and the Terradatum real estate analytics group.
Stone Point was able to build quickly by housing between 15 and 20 workers at the Doubletree hotel in Rohnert Park, according to Creedon. That’s expensive, she said, but ensuring a dedicated local labor pool has allowed the company to build homes quickly. It took five months from laying the foundation to putting up the “for sale” sign outside the Rocky Knoll home, which is listed at about $1.8 million.
12 homes rebuilt, more to come
As Stone Point and other developers begin building “spec houses,” other Fountaingrove homeowners are opting to rebuild homes lost in the hillside neighborhood.
Data provided by the city of Santa Rosa indicates that 12 homes have been built in Fountaingrove as of mid-February, with 331 more under construction and 319 other permit applications either granted or pending.
Gabe Osburn, Santa Rosa’s deputy director of development services, notes that construction in Fountaingrove has taken much longer than in other burned areas such as Coffey Park, where 146 homes already have been built and 672 are under construction. The extra time stems from Fountaingrove’s larger lots, steeper grades and more diverse floor plans, compared to the more homogeneous rebuilding projects in Coffey Park.
“You can imagine, if you’re designing a bigger home on a hillside, your construction takes longer,” Osburn said.