Workers have begun grading dirt on what could be the last new home development in the Oakmont senior community in east Santa Rosa.
Construction is expected to begin next spring on 36 homes at a project known as the Meadows at Oakmont. The building would take place nearly 50 years after the first homes were sold in the valley between Hood Mountain and Annadel State Park.
The 15-acre subdivision, located at the main entrance of Oakmont Drive and Highway 12, once belonged to developer Clem Carinalli. The property was acquired by developer Dennis Hunter, an occasional business partner, before Carinalli filed bankruptcy in 2009, the largest personal bankruptcy in Sonoma County history.
The property's sale was subject to review during the bankruptcy proceedings that restructured $196 million in debt owed by Carinalli to his creditors, said Ken Blackman, a former Santa Rosa city manager and a consultant for Hunter's Redwood Equities Investments LLC.
"That kind of put everything in limbo for two to three years," Blackman said.
But Redwood Equities is now free to proceed with the project, he said. The developer obtained a city grading permit earlier this month and commenced work.
The initial actions include digging a temporary retention basin, where loose soil can settle during heavy rains rather than be carried off site and downstream by storm water.
When Oakmont was first developed, the Meadows property was set aside for a large commercial area planned on both sides of Oakmont Drive. But most of the retail development never materialized, and the city eventually let nearly all the land be rezoned for homes.
As such, residents long have expected construction on the Meadows property.
"I think people are very happy to see it turned from a weed patch into a residential section of Oakmont," said John Taylor, president of the Oakmont Village Association.