Editorial: Dell Webb at San Juan Oaks is good for economy

San Juan Oaks Golf Club is shown.

The prospective Del Webb senior housing project at San Juan Oaks Golf Club would provide a multitude of benefits to the county’s economy, and serves as an example of an ideal development for the good of business and government coffers.

Del Webb is undergoing a feasibility study to determine whether the nationally lauded company will pursue the project on 500 acres at San Juan Oaks where the golf club once planned a second course. It would cater to active adults ages 55 and older, while a partnership with San Juan Oaks would create intrinsic advantages for both the developer and local club.

This new prospect, somewhat similar in concept to the “Sun City” idea that failed at the polls in 2006, runs in direct contrast to its possible predecessor when it comes to economic benefits that would likely result from developing about 1,000 homes over a four-year build-out within the scenic, rolling landscapes of San Juan Oaks.

Aside from a more plausible, scaled-back size to the blueprint – Sun City would have included construction of 4,400 units right as the housing bubble popped and Great Recession started – the new proposal is a far better project largely due to location and the established amenities that come with the renowned club, its restaurant and other offerings. Their presence means the developer could focus its planning efforts on housing – because many elements of a retirement master plan community already exist – and that San Juan Oaks would experience an influx of repeat business.

Although Del Webb would face some inevitable obstacles as a large developer, the company should carry a hefty amount of weight as a credible, national builder of such senior communities. Its reputation, along with location, is more than enough to quell the county’s anti-growth culture, which has lost most of its influence and support as the local economy and housing market have floundered in recent years.

They won’t have anything to legitimately complain about because the location is just right for this type of community – the general plan designates the area as ideal for housing growth – while it would provide a tremendous boost for businesses in Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

These retirement communities attract an economically stable population with relatively healthy incomes, a penchant for volunteerism and little if any burden on police.

In other words, the benefits would far outweigh any negative consequences. And the county would be fortunate if Del Webb moves forward.

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