Interstate 5 crosses the Sacramento River above the Alamar Marina in the Natomas area.
Interstate 5 crosses the Sacramento River above the Alamar Marina in the Natomas area. Dave Henry

Natomas is close to everything, and that's a major attraction to people who live there.

The community is about five miles from downtown Sacramento and five minutes from Sacramento International Airport.

People come to Natomas because of its location, said Realtors Michael and Holly Brickner of Lyon Real Estate, residents since 2001.

Power Balance Pavilion in Natomas hosts nearly 200 spectator events each year and is home to National Basketball Association team the Sacramento Kings. It's a prime venue for entertainers, such as Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum, and events such as the upcoming high school basketball regional and state championship playoffs.

Natomas Marketplace and other shopping centers in the community provide the basics. Options include Walmart, Home Depot, Raley's, Safeway, Bel Air, Kohl's, Marshall's and Staples.

"There's good shopping here," Holly Brickner said. "It's easy to access all of Sacramento from this spot. We're close to a lot of things."

The area doesn't have the sort of small shops and restaurants common in downtown Sacramento, Michael Brickner said, but downtown is nearby and easily accessible.

Parts of the city of Sacramento are within Natomas, which is bordered by Sutter County on the north, Yolo County and the Sacramento and American rivers on the west and south, and the Union Pacific Railroad line on the east.

"There's a sense of community here," Holly Brickner said. "It's building solidarity. The community works together to achieve goals, and that's an advantage."

"People also move here because of the schools," Michael Brickner said.

Many residents, he said, devote time to helping schools. The Brickners, for instance, were part of a group that helped found Westlake Charter School.

"Parents were concerned about education and wanted a stronger level, which has helped Natomas," Michael Brickner said.

In addition to Westlake and other charter schools, Natomas Unified School District has eight elementary, one middle and three high schools.

The community location is ideal for outdoor activities. River-based recreation, including fishing and boating, is readily available in Natomas, which includes the western portion of the American River Parkway, popular for walking, bicycling, picnicking and swimming.

Several parks are within Natomas, and golf is offered at the 18-hole Teal Bend Golf Course and the 9-hole course at the gated Swallows Nest community.

Many residents get involved in their community, volunteering at the library and for the Sacramento homeless-aid program Loaves and Fishes and other charities.

Housing is varied, with apartments, condominiums, townhouses, single-family homes, gated developments and senior communities.

Prices for condominiums range from $80,000 to $90,000, with an average of $110,000 to $115,000. Four condominium complexes are in Natomas: one in the Westlake area and three in Natomas Park. Prices for single-family homes range from $130,000 to $650,000.

"There were 100 homes on the market as of January, and 50 percent are short sales," Michael Brickner said. "In the long haul, this is the lowest the market has been in the last 15 months. In 2010, there were 200 homes on the market; this year there are 100."

Buyers can find homes from many builders. Over the years, homes were built by Lennar, US Home, Winncrest Homes, Pulte Homes, John Laing Homes, Centex Homes, KB Home, D.R. Horton, K. Hovnanian Homes, Cambridge Homes and Christopherson Homes.

A building moratorium and flood-insurance mandate is in force in Natomas because of concerns about area levees. But new homes are for sale adjacent to Natomas at the Park at Del Paso Nuevo on the west side, beyond the flood zone.

The New American Communities' development off Norwood Avenue has two- to four-bedroom homes ranging from 768 square feet to 2,370 square feet, with prices from $99,000 to $205,000.

Natomas originally was swamp and overflow land, said Karen Wilson, whose book, "A Century of Protecting Natomas: The History of Reclamation District 1,000" was published in October. In 1909, Wilson said, V.S. and C.K. McClatchy, Peter Shields and Alden Anderson helped form the reclamation project that eventually enabled farmers to work the land. From World War I to the Depression, farmers grew beans and alfalfa.

"A lot of farmers who originally settled in Natomas were from Portugal and other areas," Wilson said. "The legacy of the Portuguese is pretty strong."

Many Portuguese descendants live in Natomas.

"Farmers from the Midwest also were recruited by the Natomas Land Co. to come to Natomas," Wilson said. "And, before World War II, some farmers came from Japan."

Others who settled in the area were the Inderkum families from Switzerland and the Bennett families, whose names can be seen on buildings, schools and businesses in the area.

Natomas Consolidated built and maintained the levees and part of the Garden Highway, which facilitated people moving into the area and forming a small community, Wilson said.

In 1975, North Natomas had 476 people and 176 houses, and South Natomas had 8,412 residents and 2,826 housing units. The 2010 census reported 43,697 residents in South Natomas and 55,141 in North Natomas.