ESCONDIDO — Construction is expected to get underway soon on new homes that are planned to be built on the site of the old Escondido Country Club golf course.
Grading is already underway and work will start within the next three months on model homes in the first of three “villages” to be built on top of the former 18-hole golf course, according to Alex Plishner, a vice president at Lennar Homes’ San Diego office.
“We’re expecting to start our model homes in late April or early May in Village 1 and start home construction in that village, too, and we’re moving toward grading on the other two villages,” Plishner said.
The project has a new name, too — all three villages included in the development will be known as Canopy Grove, Plishner said.
Mike Strong, assistant director of planning for the city of Escondido, said the only barriers to construction starting are things like landscaping plans and building permit plans, which he expects the city will sign off on soon for Village 1.
The largest of the three, Village 1 will include 148 homes in an area between Golden Circle Drive, David Drive and Country Club Lane on the westernmost end of the project.
Plishner said the other two villages are a few months behind Village 1 in the approval process.
According to Plishner, Canopy Grove will have four “product lines” of homes: Reflection, which will be between 1,450 and 1,700 square feet; Retreat, which will be 1,550 to almost 2,000 square feet; Haven, which will be 1,525 to 2,600 square feet; and the largest Sanctuary, with 1,975 to 3,200 square feet.
In all, 380 units — both single-family and attached homes — will be constructed between the three villages of the project.
The Escondido Country Club has been shuttered for nearly a decade now; the course was closed shortly after it was bought by a private land speculator in 2012. The speculator, Michael Schlesinger of Beverly Hills, earned the ire of residents of the surrounding neighborhood when they learned that he intended to develop the land. Community members signed petitions and were eventually able to convince the Escondido City Council to rezone the former golf course as open space.
But Schlesinger sued the city, saying that the rezoning decision was unfair, as the Country Club had been zoned for residential use when he bought it. He won the lawsuit, and the city approved development plans with builder New Urban West to construct a project that was originally called “The Villages” in 2017, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported at the time. New Urban West has partnered with Lennar to build the re-dubbed Canopy Grove.
Another lawsuit from a group of homeowners held up the developers from moving forward on Canopy Grove until July, when New Urban West reached a settlement with them and agreed to pay $763,000 to the Escondido Country Club Homeowners’ Organization to reimburse residents who have made donations to pay for the suit over the years, according to the Union-Tribune.