EL DORADO HILLS
Forward-thinking aera founder sought to transform richland into distinct neighborhoods
01/09/2012 1:06 PM
10/11/2013 5:49 PM
When Jim Sewell joined Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills, he and his wife, Cheryl, purchased a lot at Serrano in case they ever decided to move there. They loved the area, and Jim liked the golf course and the club. The couple had lived for 25 years in Fair Oaks, where they raised their two children. Their life was centered around the children’s school and their activities, church and friends. In 2001, the Sewells decided to move to Serrano. “We designed and built our home as empty nesters and have been very pleased,” Cheryl Sewell said. “We thought about how the two of us lived and came up with a floor plan that has really worked for us. It’s been a great home to entertain in, and every day we are grateful. We love El Dorado Hills, and we especially love the community of Serrano. It is quiet and beautiful.” The couple didn’t think their family would live nearby, but now their two children and their spouses, their grandchildren and Cheryl’s 95-year-old mother have homes in Serrano. They’ve joined many who have headed for the hills. “There are about 3,200 Serrano rooftops,” said Jennifer Parker Gallaway of Parker Development Co., Serrano’s developers. The master-planned, gated community off El Dorado Hills Boulevard offers a 34,000-square-foot clubhouse, 17 miles of hiking trails and 1,000 acres of open space. The championship golf course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. “Serrano Country Club has been a very convenient and pleasant part of our lives,” Sewell said. “We use it to entertain friends, have business meetings and call in a take-out order for a quick and delicious dinner. We also love that there are so many parks so close by.” One is Allan H. Lindsey Park, dedicated in 2001. Off Serrano Parkway on Silva Valley Parkway, the park honors Lindsey as the original founder of El Dorado Hills and for his role in creating the El Dorado Hills Community Services District. The area was originally called Clarkston’s Town in the early Gold Rush days and named Clarksville by postal authorities in 1855. Lindsey renamed it El Dorado Hills in 1959, after purchasing 20 parcels of ranchland, totaling approximately 11,000 acres. That’s when he began work on a master plan for what he hoped would be a community of 75,000 people, according to Lindsey’s daughter, Valerie Lindsey, and “The El Dorado Hills Handbook” by Anna van Raap-horst-Johnson and Richard H. Johnson. El Dorado Hills, as Allan Lindsey envisioned, would be developed into 12 distinct villages, each defined by general terrain, natural parks, arterial streets and unique architectural style. Each village also would have a shopping center and a recreational club. The first to open in 1962 was Park Village, with homes priced from $19,000 to $24,000. The next two villages were Governor and St. Andrews. The first community shopping center, with a Raley’s supermarket, was built from 1969 to 1970. Lindsey also envisioned El Dorado Hills as a bedroom community for employees at Aerojet and Mather Air Force Base, said Valerie Lindsey, who worked with her father in the development business for 25 years. But just as the models opened in late 1962, Aerojet began laying off workers. Lindsey eventually sold his development company to the John Hancock Insurance Co. His vision of villages continued, however, and El Dorado Hills has grown to include Crown, Stonegate, Governors, the Promontory, Franciscan, Lake Hills Estates, Marina Woods, Sterlingshire, Serrano and several others. Approximately 50 villages are noted in the “El Dorado Hills Handbook,” far more than the original dozen Lindsey planned. Lindsey’s vision of villages continues today, thanks to builders offering homes in Serrano and the Blackstone master-planned community. Serrano Associates has about 300 custom lots left in the area, including 40 completed lots for sale. Custom homesites range from 1/3 acre to more than an acre. Shea Homes is building the last 29 lots in its new-home community, Bramasole at Serrano. Homes range from 2,970 square feet to 4,867 square feet and are priced from $445,000 to $555,000. Legacy Oaks at Serrano by Standard Pacific Homes has 64 lots, with four floor plans ranging from approximately 2,600 square feet to 3,300 square feet. The community will feature four plans priced from about $400,000. In addition to construction activity at Serrano, three builders are offering homes in Blackstone El Dorado on the opposite side of Highway 50 from Serrano, near the Town Center on Latrobe Road. Pinnacle at Blackstone by Taylor Morrison has nine homes ranging from approximately 2,500 square feet to 3,400 square feet and priced from $440,000 to $538,000. Two models are open for viewing. Lennar’s Shenandoah at Blackstone has five floor plans ranging from 2,100 square feet to almost 3,500 square feet. They’re priced from $393,800 to $430,800. Standard Pacific’s Sagewood at Blackstone has four plans ranging from 1,950 square feet to 2,600 square feet, with prices from approximately $350,000. Sagewood will celebrate its grand opening Oct. 15. Other housing starts in the area include single-family custom homes, said Linda Ellen Anderson, board chairman of the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce and a Realtor with Intero Real Estate Services Inc. “Real estate is growing in El Dorado Hills, as demonstrated by the new Intero office, which just opened in the Town Center,” Anderson said. “There are more equity sales, and more sellers are coming into the market. Inventory also is tightening up a little bit, and the time that homes are on the market in El Dorado Hills is shrinking.” That’s because of low interest rates and various programs that attract buyers, she said. “Technology is making it easier for clients and agents to research and review homes,” she said. “For example, Intero offers a texting feature that allows buyers to receive active property listings on their smart phones.” Listed home prices in El Dorado Hills range from $345,000 to $2 million, she said. El Dorado means “the golden one” or “the gilded one” in Spanish, and the unincorporated area offers a rich array of community activities, shops, businesses, youth programs and restaurants. Schools in El Dorado Hills are rated among the top in the state for academic test scores and scholastic achievement. The community services district oversees the parks and playgrounds and offers a variety of youth sports programs. Anderson credits the chamber’s premier partners — including the Mansour Co., Marshall Medical Center, Waste Connections Inc. and Parker Development — with contributing to the good business climate. The 900-acre El Dorado Hills Business Park is home to 200 companies. The Mansour-developed Town Center, off Highway 50 and Latrobe Road, is a prime destination, with specialty shops, restaurants, a movie theater, banks and professional services. The community hosts several well-attended events and activities, including a farmers market, a haunted house, a Halloween Spooktacular, the El Dorado Hills Firefighters’ Association’s Santa Run and a holiday tree lighting. “The Town Center has really blossomed into a wonderful destination for dining, the movies, specialty shopping and other services,” Sewell said. “We feel like we have the best of all worlds — a beautiful and peaceful place to live, along with conveniences that make everything easy.”
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