20 July 2010

In California, Construction Resumes on Several Developments

My Desert

The sun had just poked over the mountains and construction workers were already swarming over a line of new KB homes in Kingston Court in Palm Desert.

Scott Smith of R&S Concrete, a California concrete contractor, was on standby to pour the foundation in a newly dug trench for a block wall that will divide the 1,239-square-foot to 1,991-square-foot homes.

Spanish music filled the air. A worker in a hardhat fanned dust off a tile roof with a Dry-Vac.

Framed in a matter of weeks, the “Built to Order” homes of Kingston Court will be finished in time for their July 17 debut.

“It's quality construction, and it went up quick,'' KB site superintendent Zack Pate said. “The other day, we had 100 guys on the job. This week promises more of the same.”

New models to check out in the KB Home development north of Frank Sinatra Drive may be a sign the economy is loosening a bit.

Having a font of skilled workers at beck-and-call, though, means times remain tough in the construction industry.

“They're happy to be working,” Pate said. “Since we started construction, I'd say I've seen 10 guys a day dropping off their cards.”

Smith drove in from Temecula to do the job. “It's a long drive, but that's OK. I've made it through the hard times.”

Steve French of Murrieta said his masonry company has seen a pickup in work.

“It's tentative — still,'' he said. “It's fits and starts, but KB's getting different projects started in different tracts, so that's a good sign. They're mostly model complexes, though.”

These days, French said no one's building “spec” homes.

James Brownyard, a spokesman for Desert Valley Builders Association, said any new construction is a hopeful sign of movement in the marketplace.

“Any time you're putting people to work, it's good for the community and, not to mention, the service industry,'' he said. “It means someone can support their mortgage, or get a mortgage themselves.”

The KB Home tract isn't the only action in town.

Lennar is completing sales in the Escena at Palm Springs development it built before the housing market crash.

D.R. Horton has had its trademark flags flying outside its model homes in Renaissance at The Gallery in Palm Desert.

The weekend of June 26 had Horton celebrating a model grand opening event for the new Sonora Wells at Shadow Hills in Indio.

Other developments with new homes include: Stonefield Estates at Santa Rosa, Whittier Ranch, and the Ponderosa Home development of Villas at Paradiso, all of Indio; Capistrano at La Quinta, the RJT Homes development of Cordorniz and Rancho Santana, all of La Quinta; and Aviara at Mission Shores of Rancho Mirage.

Horton's condominium project, Alegria at Spanish Walk, Palm Desert, has proven popular through the recession.

Prices in the complex near Interstate 10 and Cook are in the $100,000s.

And Falling Waters reemerged months ago at Monterey Ridge of Palm Desert to create a splash in the townhouse market.

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