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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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Lyon Announces Fourteen New Homes in Covenant Hills

Residents of Covenant Hills are used to the pick up in construction activities going on in the custom home portion of the community.  That activity accelerated further when homebuilder William Lyon Homes planted “coming soon” signs on 14 vacant Covenant Hills lots.  The Lyon signs are located in and around the streets of Bell Pasture, Cloister, Crespi and Coral Blue.  While Lyon is not a custom home builder, they are heavily promoting a “no two alike” message for this effort that is being branded as the Lyon Artisan Collection.  Rumors of a Lyon project in the custom home section have been circulating for months, but with the signs posted we assume this is public information now.   The Lyon Artisan website proclaims:

William Lyon Signature Home proudly introduces Artisan Collection to Covenant Hills. Like a true artistic masterpiece with superlative craftsmanship, each residence within this luxury collection will be exquisitely unique with a focus on high-quality interior and exterior features and finishes based on thoughtful design. Inspired by the passion of renowned designers and architects, this collection of 14 individual residences will look, live and feel extraordinary.

We chuckled at the fact that this single landing page contains three references to the homes being “individual,” two references to “no two alike,” two references to “unique” and one mention of “one-of-a-kind” thrown in for good measure.  Do you think Lyon is nervous about acceptance of these homes in a formerly all-custom community?  If they are, it is perhaps with good reason.  Previous conversions of Covenant Hills custom lots to infill tract developments have involved entire streets on the margins of the custom neighborhood where no custom homes were directly implicated.  The most recent example of this is the Legacy Collection, in which entire streets were sold to Warmington Homes.  On the contrary, the 14 Lyon lots are sprinkled throughout the existing custom neighborhood and in many cases will have custom homes as next door neighbors.

Still, this development offers a number of positives for the community, too:

  • It will take years to finish the Covenant Hills community if DMB waits for individual homeowners to buy and build all of the remaining custom lots and the neighborhood will not feel completed until that happens.  Selling 14 lots to Lyon (and apparently fast-tracking the approvals) will push Covenant Hills faster towards completion.  You can see the difference in and around the Legacy Collection homes — people walking dogs, jogging, enjoying the pocket parks and trails.  It feels like a neighborhood now whereas two years ago it was an expanse of vacant dirt.
  • In spite being known for less expensive, entry-level products, Lyon does have experience building high-end production homes.  The Altamura homes in Nellie Gail Ranch (Laguna Hills) are one example, and those are decent products (although no one will confuse them for a custom home).  Lyon is also catching the high end market at a great time (see this recent article), so they will have a financial incentive to invest a little extra in the design and construction of their Artisan homes.  We expect these will be among the nicest production homes in Ladera Ranch.
  • If the current web page is any indication, Lyon is going to bend over backwards to make sure these homes look and feel unique, both inside and out, even if they do share a few common floorplans.  Hopefully, the Lyon homes will take advantage of Covenant Hills’ multiple architectural styles, adding to the architectural diversity in Covenant Hills.  Besides, it’s not as though Covenant Hills doesn’t have its fair share of spec homes already.

It’ll be interesting to see how these homes look when they are built, how they are priced and how the community reacts (if at all).  If you are interested in living in the custom area of Covenant Hills but don’t want to take on a multi-year construction project, this is your chance.  You might consider heading over to and signing up for the interest registry.  Although no dates have been announced yet, some of the Lyon lots are already laying foundation and we imagine most will be ready for move-in during 2015.  Finally, if the Lyon Artisan Collection is successful, we can expect more custom lots to be sold in bulk to homebuilders in an effort to quickly complete Covenant Hills and close the book on new construction in Ladera Ranch.    And in the end, it’s not the type of homes being built that is important, right?  What’s important is filling the yards and parks of Covenant Hills with residents and their families.

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