NIPOMO, Calif. -- A large-scale, multi-faceted development is being proposed in Nipomo.
Called Dana Reserve, it's something that could dramatically alter the landscape of the unincorporated South San Luis Obispo community.
If built, it would be the biggest new development in the Nipomo area since The Woodlands (now known as Trilogy) was approved by county supervisors in 1998.
"There is a significant mix," said developer Nick Tompkins. "It starts off with an affordable housing component that's required by the County of San Luis Obispo County in any project."
The project site sits on a highly visible 288 acre piece of property adjacent to Highway 101 on the westside, just south Willow Road.
"There will be a commercial section, with possibly a small grocery store and some other daily amenities that people locally need, along with what we call the village part, which will be more of the sit down restaurant outside area," Tompkins said. "A medium sized hotel, maybe 80 to 100 room hotel, the education facility, a daycare center and an equestrian trailhead."
The property is owned by the Dana Reserve LLC, with Tompkins officially listed as Managing Member.
Tompkins said he purchased the property three years ago.
"It is a big change," said Tompkins. "But it's a change that was actually planned in the county's specific plan and general plan for a long time."
According to a company document, other proposed amenities includes over seven miles of hiking, biking, pedestrian, and equestrian trails for the public, multiple parks, including park areas for each community, and barn, which would serve as a community gathering center.
At the heart of the development will be more 1,200 homes, including single family units, apartments, and condominiums in 12 distinct neighborhoods.
"There's been a long term need for housing in San Luis Obispo County," said Tompkins. "There will be multi-family apartments for rent, condos for sale, townhomes for sale, and then a mix of single-family homes that will vary in size, starting with a smaller lot, roughly 4,000 foot lot homes, going up to 6,000 to 7,000 foot lot homes."
Tomkins, a Nipomo native, added the project will help San Luis Obispo County meet a portion of its County Regional Housing Needs allocation.
"This property was identified as a place where that regional housing need could be helped," said Tompkins. "It's only a very small part of the overall problem, but it will be something that will help them get to their final goal."
As for the commercial aspect of the project, developers have yet to recruit any prospective tenants.
Another major component of the project is the establishment of a significant off-site permanent woodland preserve that is located nearby.
"As part of what they call mitigation efforts, we purchased a 385 acre piece of the original Rancho Nipomo, which is directly across the freeway, that we, along with a non-profit conservation group, will be putting a permanent conservation easement to keep it protected forever, but also opening that up to the public to be able to take hikes," said Tompkins.
Due to the project's this size, scope and magnitude, it is sure to raise a lot of eyebrows and concerns from people in the Nipomo area, including worries about water, traffic, density, and loss of rural characteristics.
Tompkins said he understands those concerns.
He pointed out that he has lived in Nipomo his entire life, and has deep, historical ties to the area.
"We live about a mile down the road," said Tompkins. "We have a responsibility to the community. It is a beautiful piece of property and change is tough. It's part of the original Rancho Nipomo property that was Captain Dana's."
Captain William Dana is Nipomo's founder and area icon. He's also Tompkin's great great grandfather, so this represents much more than simply a real estate deal.
"This is a gorgeous area," said Tompkins. "We want this to be something that the community can be proud that actually happened here, because it will be change, but something that contributes back to what makes Nipomo special, and maybe even try and make it a little bit more special."
According to a company document, Dana Reserve would actually help out Nipomo Community Services District (NCSD) and its customers by, "efficiently and cost effectively utilize the additional water from Santa Maria that (NCSD) is contractually obligated to receive beginning in 2025 while also lowering the projected future water and sewer rates."
It also states that Dana Reserve will allow NCSD to reduce ground water pumping by approximately 35 percent.
As for traffic, Tompkins said the development will help alleviate what has become a notorious problem for the community.
Plans call for N. Frontage Road to be extended to Willow Road, plus connecting Pomeroy Road to Willow Road, which Tompkins said will relieve traffic off of busy Tefft Street.
Tompkins recently submitted plans for Dana Reserve to the county and NCSD, which now begins what he said will a very long and arduous process.
"We actually developed 28 separate plans to get to where we are today, before we showed them to anybody because we wanted to think through all the problems, and do all the studies up front, including traffic studies, noise studies, biological studies, before we brought it out to the surface," said Tompkins. "I think we've done the research and feel very comfortable in what we've brought forward and look forward to public comment on it."
If ultimately approved by county supervisors, Tompkins said it would take about seven years to fully build out the project.
Final approval could take well more than a year.
"I'm very excited," said Tompkins. "But I'm a little bit in awe of the amount of work that we need to do to make sure that when we get finished, we're glad and the community is glad. There's a lot of work here to do, and there's an enormous amount of responsibility on this."