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Turlock seeing increasing development through infill projects
Population growth beginning to rebound from recession drop
Turlock growth pic
The Vista student housing complex the tallest residential buildings in Turlock currently under construction between Dels Lane and Crowell Road is a perfect example of the high-density residential infill development the City of Turlock is hoping to encourage. - photo by Photo Contributed

As Turlock heads into 2017, residential development is on the rise; however, the large, new subdivisions that have dominated building in the past are being replaced with more infill projects.

The Vista student housing complex — the tallest residential buildings in Turlock currently under construction between Dels Lane and Crowell Road — is a perfect example of the direction growth in Turlock has taken over the past few years and is expected to take in the year to come.

The Vista, which includes three four-story buildings 50 feet in height, with 180 units, 600 beds and 618 parking spaces, is an infill project. It's a high-density residential complex that is being built in what was empty land amongst already-established neighborhoods.

While many long-time residents of the area protested the construction of the towering structures near their single-story homes, many in Turlock (including the City Council) were glad to see residential development return to town.

New residential development, like The Vista, reflect a rebounding population for Turlock.

Turlock is ranked  121st in the state in terms of overall population, at 72,050, out of 482 cities, according to statistics recently released by the State Department of Finance. Turlock saw about a 1 percent growth in population from July 2015 to July 16.

That 1 percent is a far cry, however, from the average 2.9 percent growth per year Turlock saw from 1990 to 2000, or the 2 percent per year growth from 2000 to 2010.

The recession years hit Turlock hard, with a drop in yearly growth to .5 percent between 2007 and 2010.

"Looking at the change we're growing a little faster, but we're well below the 1990 to 2000," said City of Turlock Director of Planning Debbie Whitmore.

The changing rate of growth can also be seen in the number of building permits issued over the past nine years.

At the height of building boom, 2003, the City of Turlock issued 818 building permits for single-family homes and  130 multi-family complexes. In 2007, those permits dropped to 144 single-family and 17 multi-family. In 2010, the City only issued 54 permits for single-family developments and zero multi-family units.

It's still slow-going as the City of Turlock had only issued 44 single-family building permits from January through November 2016, and six multi-family for the same time period.

"We are just now starting to see some interest," said Whitmore. "We're getting an awful lot of interest in builders doing single lot homes and college student rental units."

Whitmore said that infill projects generally cost the developers a lot less money as the infrastructure — water, sewer, electric, gas lines — are already in place. The City of Turlock also encourages infill development on vacant parcels through incentives and streamlined approval process for projects.

There are plenty of diverse areas available for developers interested in building multiple homes, like the East Tuolumne and Morgan Ranch Master Plan areas.

The East Tuolumne Master Plan, initially adopted in 2005, encompasses approximately 100 acres of land designated in the Turlock General Plan for very low density residential uses (up to three dwelling units per acre) along East Tuolumne Road between North Quincy and North Waring Roads. The intent of the Master Plan is to provide a smooth transition between the more dense residential development to the west and the more rural / agricultural properties located east within the County's jurisdiction, as well as establish a distinct eastern edge for the City.

The Turlock City Council approved the Morgan Ranch Master Plan in 2015, a planned development on the south side of Turlock that offers a smaller product that would be available for entry-level housing, something that is sorely needed in Turlock according to Whitmore.

"We starting to see the growth happen in the north part of the county...but Morgan Ranch, we're still a little further to the south and we haven't seen quite the same ability to invest to get that infrastructure started," said Whitmore.

One area that will start to be developed in 2017 is the Monte Verde subdivision, a 107-unit new housing subdivision that was approved by the City Council in April 2014.

The  approximately 17.84 acres located at the corner of Countryside Drive and Tuolumne Road, in the city’s North West Triangle Specific Plan area will be developed by Florsheim Homes.

Florsheim President Randy Bling said that he is hoping to start improvements on the Countryside Drive property this year.

Bling said that while Florsheim just finished a lot in Hughson, development in Stanislaus County as a whole has been pretty slow — but far more than during the height of the recession.

"We've done well over 150 homes this year and in 2010 we only had 40 or 50. There are more home buyers this year and the prices have stabilized," said Bling.

While Bling said it's always a tough call with politics and new people taking office, he's seen slow growth and a fairly good market.

"Everything is coming back, interest rates ...still historically low and it's a good time to buy right now," he said.

While the return of new housing is seen as an economic indicator, there are benefits to slow and steady growth, according to Whitmore.

" I think this is a very nice pace of growth and allows the city to adjust...allows people to be more directly integrated into the city because you don't have a huge growth in one development," she said.

"In Turlock you see natural growth, not as many commuters."