Colby Circle townhomes begin construction

by Steven Felschundneff |

Following nearly 14 years of delays, and extensions granted by the city, work has finally begun on the Colby Circle townhomes, the final phase of the Old School House revitalization project.

The developer, Newport Beach-based Intracorp Homes, announced on Monday that it had closed the deal on the five-acre property on Friday, January 22, and began demolition at the site, including the removal of existing trees and an outbuilding, the same day.

“The site is to be Intracorp’s newest housing development, a 96-home community that will include a mix of single family detached homes, duplexes and townhomes,” the company said in a statement.

“There is tremendous demand for new, upscale living communities in this area, and this [ideal] location is at the center of a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood,” Brad Perozzi, president of Intracorp Southern California said.  “The development of these new homes will not only provide residents with new housing options but will present a unique opportunity to purchase a new residence in one of the most desirable communities in Southern California.”

The start of construction comes with little time to spare as the clock was ticking on a two-year extension to existing plans that had been reapproved by the architectural commission in July of 2019.

Three residents who live adjacent to the site appealed the commission’s decision in 2019, arguing that the 2007 plans, which had already received four extensions, were outdated and didn’t take into consideration how the project’s three- and four-story buildings would affect the residents’ ability to enjoy their homes, the COURIER reported at the time.

In response, Intracorp made a few changes to the project’s design, opting for two-story, detached, single-family homes on the north side of the site to serve as a “transition” between the project and the Griswold townhomes to the north,

In September 2019, the Claremont City Council voted 3-1-1 to uphold the commission’s decision to authorize the two-year extension, with Councilmember Jed Leano casting the lone dissenting vote, while Councilmember Ed Reece recused himself because of a conflict of interest.

While most COURIER readers are familiar with the Old School House development, for the uninitiated, the 21-acre property is located on the northwest corner of Indian Hill and Foothill boulevards. The construction site encompasses two underused parking lots situated at the northern most portion of the property which is bisected by Colby Circle. Longtime residents will remember the site as the original location of Claremont High School.

The development of the Colby Circle project represents the final phase of the Old School House/Claremont Inn Specific Plan, which included new retail shops and restaurants in the Old School House building itself as well as stand alone properties such as the ever popular Trader Joe’s. Several phases were impacted by the 2009 recession including Colby Circle townhomes.

Due to the loss of public parking, completion of the nearly finished parking garage adjacent to Trader Joe’s, is a prerequisite for building permits to be issued for construction of the residential buildings at Colby Circle.

“The Community Development Department approved the removal of the existing trees located within the two surface parking lots north and south of Colby Circle. Street trees along the easterly portion of Colby Circle and along Indian Hill Boulevard (north and south of Colby Circle) are also being removed, and will be replaced as part of the new project landscaping,” according to the city managers report on January 14. “Tree removal is the first step in the demolition of the parking lots to allow the grading and construction of the 96-unit Colby Townhomes.”

In classic Claremont form, many residents complained on social media that “the city of trees” had agreed to allow the developer to remove so many mature trees. One coastal live oak described as being at the “knuckle” of the property will be retained.

On Tuesday all of the trees had been removed, save the lone live oak, and the site was partially graded, with a small work crew in the process of demolishing the outbuilding, which was in the northwest corner of the property.

Intracorp purchased the property through a joint venture partnership with Newport Beach-based IHP Capital Partners, an established provider of equity financing for residential real estate developments. Construction is planned to commence soon after the site preparation is completed, with initial sales anticipated for the end of the year.


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