The business plan for the Ascente development has gone through several iterations to reach today’s version.
Partners Michael Barnes and Paul Tanguay purchase 632 acres on the western slope of the Steamboat Hills off the Mount Rose Highway for $7.2M. The company listed was Symbio. There was an earlier development plan for the property called Matera Ridge. The tentative map application for Ascente was submitted to Washoe County on September 15, 2015 with an updated version submitted April 17, 2017.
Working with Lumos (engineering firm), the developers produced a development plan for 225 homes in four villages on 225 acres for Phase-I. The long term plan was to add a Phase-II going over the ridge with a road leading to the Mount Rose Highway for an additional 400 homes. The Washoe County Planning Commission approved the Phase-I plan 6/6/17. The neighbors appealed and made a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners on 8/8/17. With a sympathetic county commission, the Phase-I project was approved replete with a laughable traffic report and many issues left open. Apparently, the original plan was for the developers to bring in the utilities and then sell individual lots to builders. There was a later version of the plan which was to sell entire villages to large home builders. According to the word on the street, large home builders were contacted to see if they would buy a village with an approved tentative map. Apparently, there were no takers. Symbio went on to seek smaller home builders, but there were apparently no takers among them either.
Symbio and NNV1 are listed as the property owners with principals Tanguay and Barnes. Dixon Commercial Realty listed the project (12/19) at $20.05M.
Sale prices were …
- Sierra Village $4.2M
- Tioga Village $5.35M
- Donner Village $7.95M
- Whitney Village $2.55M
There’s no news: there were apparently no takers. It’s not clear why the listing is no longer on Dixon. It may be that their contract expired and was not renewed.
Bryan Drakulich is featuring the property and looking for investors. The property was listed for sale at $14.5M through Century 21. This includes 3 of the original 4 villages (208 homes, 185 acres). The Whitney Village (southern most) is not included. There has been little work done on the property for the last several years.
The area is experiencing a boom in home demand and construction. With the basin floors mostly developed, developers are building on the surrounding slopes all over the Truckee Meadows. This is more risky and expensive, but apparently more profitable than building the higher density infill needed to meet the area’s housing needs.
There are special problems building in the Steamboat Hills not far from the geothermal power plant. The hills were named after the steam plumes that came from deep fissures in the rock. There is very little soil on top of the Andesite rock which is quite hard. The area is riven with earthquake faults. Many of the lots may not be buildable due to the fault locations. Extensive blasting and grading will be needed for the roads and the lots. The utility trenches will be problematic too. Rock will need to be removed while soil will need to be brought in.
Drakulich claims “Includes site geotechnical investigation suitable for final map application.” This is highly dubious. Ascente’s geotechnical investigation of the fault-riven area appears to have been inadequate to the point of being unprofessional. A report to this effect was sent to engineers in the county planning department in December of 2017. There has been no reply.
Thanks for the update Steve. If what Drakulich says is true – that the 2017 field work that we stalked and blogged about IS robust enough to meet the Conditions for approval, then why haven’t either the County or Symbio seen fit to share this report with us? Why the big secret? I was one of the stalkers of the Lumos field team when they did the pitiful amount of field work (https://washoerap.com/2017/12/24/coal-for-the-county/), and wrote the subsequent letter to the County regarding our technical concerns that you referenced.
There has been no evidence of any additional field investigation since 2017. What we observed was an embarrassingly miniscule amount of work effort to address such important and potentially costly geological issues. The onus is on them to prove that faults DON’T exist, and that the andesitic rock IS rippable and that blasting CAN be done safely; and that stormwater runoff will be adequately managed.
Drakulich also offers due diligence documents, and a corresponding index. Are those available to the public? I wonder who signed off on the geotechnical due diligence? The contractor bids are essentially worthless if there’s no proof that the 134 Conditions attached to the approval of the 2016 Tentative Map have been adequately addressed.
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