Master Plan Brings Green to SoCal Desert

Family Development and Presidio Residential Capital have received the go-ahead for a 660-acre development in Riverside County, Calif. Comprising apartments, condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes, the project would be the first of its kind in the Coachella Valley.
Virada, Indio, Calif.

Virada, Indio, Calif.

Family Development and Presidio Residential Capital have won city approval to develop a $451 million master-planned community in Riverside County, Calif. Located in Indio, about 24 miles east of Palm Springs, the 660-acre development will include 1,300 townhomes, condominiums, apartments and single-family homes, as well as 284 acres of open space and public parkland and a two and a half-acre commercial center.

Dubbed Virada, the development would be the region’s first green master-planned project.“The Coachella Valley has never had a sustainable community, let alone a sustainable master-planned community of this size and diversity,” said Vincent Barbato, principal of Family Development, in prepared remarks. “We’ve created Virada to promote a healthy, active lifestyle with special significance on embracing the environment and forging community pride.”

Presidio purchased the parcel north of Avenue 38 in Indio, Calif., in 2013. The Altum Group provided entitlement, preliminary design and project management services for Virada. The land was entitled twice, but never developed, with previous plans including a 27-hole golf course and assisted living facility. The retail center will be located within a five-minute walk from all residents. Located at the base of the Chocolate Mountains, the community will have easy access to Interstate 10.

Spotlight on Sustainability

The project received the Award of Merit for Comprehensive Planning from the Inland Empire Section of the American Planning Association for its innovative, sustainable design techniques that are expected to significantly reduce water and energy use, while promoting an active, healthy lifestyle. Property amenities will include a clubhouse, pool, bike trails and parks. Large paths will accommodate neighborhood electric vehicles. A dedicated solar field will power the community, from street lighting to other power needs.

“If we can sell electricity back to the grid, we can greatly lower HOA fees,” said Barbato. “Affordability is a huge part of sustainability, so that’s another way of creating value while also being environmentally responsible.”

The community will cater to all income brackets and market perspectives, according to Barbato. The single-family homes will be set on smaller than average lots that are wide rather than the typical deep and narrow layout so garages won’t dominate the streetscape. Since the community is adjacent to Sun City Palm Desert, about 85 percent of the lots will have north and south exposure, which is highly desirable in a desert climate and allows for passive energy conservation.

The joint venture also developed Encue in Phoenix, The Ridge at Troon North, a 65-unit multifamily community in Scottsdale, and The Cove in La Quinta, Calif.

Image courtesy of The Altum Group