31 March 2011

Blackstone Subdivision Models Now Open

The newly-opened models for the Amber community within the Blackstone project
at Tonner Hills west of Carbon Canyon in Brea.

As of last weekend, four sets of model homes for the new Blackstone master planned subdivison in the Tonner Hills area of the old Olinda Oil Field, just west of Carbon Canyon, opened.  Notably, just in today's Los Angeles Times, it is reported that housing prices have declined to levels comparable to 2009 (see article here).  So, it will certainly be interesting to see whether Blackstone can avert the downward trend.

A wayfinding sign showing newly-opened communities
and future amenities within the Blackstone project.

A quick drive this morning through the eastern division of the community (there is a segment on the west side of the 57 Freeway between just north of the Lambert Road exit and south of the Tonner Canyon offramp) revealed an ambitious project.  There are models for three separate offerings from homes under 2,000 square feet and under $500,000 to executive style residences well in excess of 3,000 square feet and pushing into the $900,000s.  A future community park, a recreation area and other amenities are laid out, as are future communities pushing further north into the hills separating Brea from Tonner Canyon and amidst a few dwindling operating oil wells.

A sign marked "FUTURE COMMUNITIES" shows what will
extend northward toward Tonner Canyon at the Blackstone subdivision.

The main arterial roadway is Santa Fe Avenue, extending from Olinda Ranch across Valencia Avenue and winding westward until it turns south to meet up with Kraemer Boulevard at the Sommerset development and Brea's fire station #3.  This is symbolically important, perhaps, because the majority of Blackstone sits upon abandoned oil property.

Producing oil wells at the edge of the Blackstone development.

A future post on this blog will discuss Olinda Ranch and, particularly, the very detailed and technologically interesting work conducted there to mitigate any potential hazards from methane that might be present under the surface from nearly a century of oil extraction.  This is a big change from earlier housing projects on abandoned fields, in which, as in cases recently profiled at Carson, health issues have emerged from exposure to cancer-causing materials.  It would certainly be interesting to know what has been done at Blackstone that is similar (or, for that matter, contrasting) to what was done at Olinda Ranch.

This future park site is just east of newly opened model homes at Blackstone and directly north of new subsidized apartments within the community.  In the distance is Olinda Ranch and part of the Olinda Alpha landfill.

A question posted on the blog yesterday concerned seepage and leaking of any potentially dangerous material from the Olinda Alpha landfill, which is just north and slightly east of Blackstone (and directly above Olinda Ranch.)  Indeed, methane is a by-product of landfill operations and there is a certain amount of energy being produced at Olinda Alpha (and on a much larger scale, by way of illustration, at Puente Hills, an enormous landfill adjoining Whittier and Hacienda Heights) by tapping the methane that is generated from the buried refuse.  If there have been any demonstrated and verified problems from Olinda Alpha, it would be interesting to know, though nothing has been located to that effect by this blogger.

Looking north from Blackstone towards the hills dividing it from Tonner Canyon.

At any rate, this is an interesting time to be introducing a new housing project on the scale that is planned for at Blackstone.  Indeed, this Los Angeles Times article from February (see here) indicates that rising prices for construction materials lead some experts to advise buyers to get in to something now before those increases take effect. 

An executive-size model by Shea Homes at Blackstone.
Of course, interest rates still remain very low, though certain to go up in the near future and provided that prospective buyers still have either equity, a substantial down payment and the ability to qualify for a loan, there could conceivably be demand for Blackstone's homes.  But, this community will be several years in development, so whether the economic uncertainty continues and dampens demand and affordability will be fascinating to observe at a place like this subdivision.

A common recreation area within the Blackstone development.
After all, as still another Times article from just last week (see here) shows, new home sales are very anemic and the long-term picture, according to some, is bleak indeed.  Obviously, if the labor market continues to be stagnant and wages remain flat, even plummeting home prices and rock-bottom interest rates can't seal a deal for enough Americans. 

Love the motto.
Still, it is good to know that, amidst all the uncertainty, there is someone who cares.


Jack said...

Hi Paul, Does Shea know something that we don't? There aren't too many people around that can pay $900,000 for a new house in this economy.

prs said...

Hello Jack, I can only assume that Shea had conducted or utilized others' market studies and determined that there is enough of a market for homes in the $500-900K range. As the links in the post indicate, however, conditions are slipping back to the unpleasant days of 2009. We can only observe and see whether there are those folks out there that Shea is counting on! Thanks for the comment.

FQ said...

Is there any data on cancer and other risks of living next to Alpha Olinda landfill? When is it closing down?

prs said...

Hello FQ, I can't offer anything about research on health effects from the landfill, but can tell you that, to the best of my knowledge, the scheduled closing date is the end of 2021. Thanks for visiting.