In real estate, location is king. In Modesto real estate, location near the mall, shopping and freeway is like the Iron Throne — tough to claim and a long time coming.
One of the first new single-family housing developments to go up in northwest Modesto in at least a decade debuted its model homes Saturday. Icon at Inspiration from Florsheim Homes is being built in a long-vacant lot behind Vintage Faire Mall. When finished it will feature 154 single-family homes. The first new houses will begin building around mid-August and be finished by late this year or early next.
After starting sales at the end of June, Florsheim Homes President Randy Bling said they have already sold 20 homes and have a wait list for others. He said the response — on Saturday a steady stream of people toured through the model homes — illustrates the pent-up demand on the northwest side of town for new construction.
“Compared to some of our other projects this is three times as much interest,” Bling said. “We’re seeing first-time homebuyers and people moving up, or even downsizing. It is running the gamut.”
Before Icon at Inspiration, almost all of the new construction in the city has been in the northeast side of town, centered primarily around Village One. Bling said he believes it has been about 20 years since a major new subdivision was built along Modesto’s north Highway 99 corridor. For commuters and many Modesto families, that wait for new homes near the freeway and popular shopping destinations has been excruciating.
That includes Modesto couple Lexie and Stephen Greer, who are set on buying at Icon. The 32-year-olds currently live in a condo in the same part of town.
“We’ve been waiting for this; we’ve been on a wait list since last October,” said Lexie Greer, who teaches at Beyer High School. “We really wanted to live near Trader Joe’s and Costco and this area. We just love this location.”
Icon at Inspiration has six models to choose from, starting at 1,569 square feet for $378,000 and going up to 3,100 square feet starting at $469,000. All the models, which range from three to five-bedrooms, include solar. Bling said the company has added a number of customization options to help personalize and modernize the spaces.
First announced in May 2018, the project comes after the 45-acre parcel behind the mall between Dale Road and Vintage Drive sat fallow for decades. The Gagos family owned the land since the 1940s, and sold a portion of what was originally their 220-acre ranch to the developers of the Vintage Faire Mall in the mid-1970s. But then the lot behind the mall just sat and sat, with nothing but weeds and dirt.
After some failed attempts at development, Mitch Gagos — who runs the family’s commercial development business — sold the bulk of the property to Florsheim Homes. Bling had hoped originally to begin construction last summer, but plans were delayed. A heavy rainy season this year also stalled work, he said.
The 35 acres are being split into two subdivisions, Icon at Inspiration and Metro at Inspiration. The smaller Metro development, with 73 single-family detached starter homes, should have a lower price point. Bling said models would be ready by end of the year.
To prepare for both subdivisions, Vintage Drive is being extended to Dale Road. Half of the extension, up to the model homes, was completed late last month. The remainder should be finished in about two weeks, Bling said, making what will no doubt be a very popular pass through from the Sisk Road shopping north of the mall to the Dale Road businesses.
But the location isn’t just about shopping. For Amira Muhammad, buying at Icon would shave a good 40 minutes off her total daily commute to Stockton for work. The 50-year-old Modesto mother of two toured the model homes Saturday, and said she was 90 percent sure they’d try to buy in the development. They currently rent an older home near Oakdale Road on the east side of town.
“Even though Modesto has a lot of homes, there are not a lot of new homes,” she said. “These homes are pretty reasonable for new homes. And older are going for almost as much. So why not buy a new one?”
Gagos still owns the remaining 10-acres of the lot, fronting Dale Road. He plans to develop the parcels, one on either side of the expanded Vintage Drive, into a commercial project with restaurants and retail shops. But for now that project is on hold and the land remains empty, he said.
Modesto resident Ed Inderbitzin, 64, came to check out the Icon models for his daughter. He lives nearby, a few blocks away, and has been watching the development with interest. He said he expects them to do well, given the neighborhood.
“It’s a great area, you’ve got everything here. That’s the reason we’ve stayed for 35 years in this location,” he said.