Developers lay out plans

The Copperopolis Town Square during the Hot Copper Car Show last May. 

Locally-based CV Development Partners announced a number of major projects coming to Copperopolis during a town hall meeting for Saddle Creek Resort residents on Monday.

Developers Tom Hix and Mike Fletcher have built “award winning golf courses” and residential communities, including CordeValle in San Martin and Las Palmas Ranch in Salinas, with a combined value of $2 billion, according to their presentation.

CV Development is partnering with The Nathan Family Office, a “Los Angeles-based family office managing investments within real estate, venture capital, and other alternative investment classes on behalf of the Nathan Family,” according to the company’s profile on LinkedIn.

Under the umbrella name of “Copper Valley,” the partnership seeks to revamp the Town Square into a destination point and build up to 800 new homes within Saddle Creek. 

According to Fletcher, that number is significantly less than the 1,060 potential homes that were approved by the county for real estate giant Castle & Cooke, who were the previous owners of Saddle Creek, the Town Square and thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the Copperopolis area.

“As you shrink the supply of houses, the demand goes up,” Fletcher said. “So the days of more and more houses being built everywhere, I think, are over.”

Developers lay out plans for Copper

From left: Saddle Creek General Manager Rick Morgan, Vice President of Operations for Troon Darrell Morgan, CV Development Partners management team Tom Hix and Mike Fletcher. 

Fletcher told the Enterprise on Tuesday that CV Development hopes to attract baby boomers and millennials from the Bay Area who are seeking an outdoor-centric and community-based lifestyle.

“If we are good stewards, we’ll find that balance between growth and protection of the rural character,” Fletcher said.

A wide range of plans

Within the next year, Fletcher and Hix plan to revitalize the Town Square with new businesses and an outdoor event center called “The Quarry,” which will accommodate roughly 400 people. A horse-drawn carriage is expected to arrive within a few months, and a courthouse will be added to create a wedding venue.

The developers said they have been talking with an unnamed doctor about moving a small clinic and pharmacy into the square and have discussed relocating the post office as well.

In coming years, the partnership plans on adding other amenities to the square, including a market, a medical center, a Sheriff’s Office substation, a timeshare hotel and up to 74 new residential units.

“We plan on making the Town Square a gateway to the foothills for the couple million people who drive along Highway 4,” said Fletcher, who currently resides part-time in a Town Square loft.

Big changes are also planned for Saddle Creek, which the developers announced may be subject to a new name and some rebranding.

The 18-hole course was running at a $1 million deficit under Castle & Cooke and was not sustainable, according to Hix and Fletcher. Now managed by Troon, an international golf management company, Saddle Creek will see modifications to nearly every facet of its operations, including its restaurant, website and fitness center. A roundabout on Little John Road at the northern entrance of the golf community is expected to be complete by year’s end.

Building out the remaining lots within Saddle Creek will be the first major real estate project CV Development hopes to tackle, with the construction of approximately 20 new homes scheduled to begin by late summer. The new community will be called “Renaissance,” and offer single-story homes in the 2,200- to 2,800-square-foot range.

Within five to seven years, the partnership hopes to build a 15,000-square-foot community center near the northern border of Saddle Creek, offering dining, a fitness center, a multi-purpose room, spa and outdoor activities.

All projects within Saddle Creek have been approved by the county, according to Fletcher.

Developers lay out plans for Copper

Saddle Creek residents and members take in a presentation hosted by CV Development Partners at the golf resort's clubhouse on Jan. 28. 

Another project the partnership hopes to complete by year’s end is to open up Sawmill Lake, a 247-acre property with a small lake just south of the Town Square, for camping and outdoor recreation. There are plans to develop the land for residential and/or mixed-use units within three to five years, pending the release of the county’s updated General Plan.

Copper Valley Ranch, which consists of 4,267 acres on the southern border of Saddle Creek near Tulloch Reservoir, will likely be preserved as a venue for outdoor pursuits with a “small residential component,” according to the developers. The property was designated for cattle grazing in 2016 after Castle & Cooke’s plans to build 2,400 homes were shut down by the Calaveras County Planning Commission.

In it for the long haul

“About 23 years ago, Castle & Cooke started a vision, and about 10 years ago everything stopped, and we were wondering what was going to happen,” said Saddle Creek General Manager Rick Morgan during the presentation. “Now we have our knights in shining armor who are going to save us.”

“We’re not here for the short term,” Hix told the audience, highlighting his 20 years working in Copperopolis to build Tuscany Hills, a development plan on Tulloch that has yet to come to fruition. “My hair was black when I moved here,” he joked.

Over the course of two presentations hosting over 300 people, the partners received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from the Saddle Creek residents.

“Thank you for the investment you’re making in this community. We know it’s significant,” said one resident, Ron Von Trapp. “Your vision is terrific.”

“We’ve received nothing but positive feedback and support from the community,” Fletcher told the Enterprise. He added that future presentations were being planned for other areas of Copperopolis.

“We’ve had new businesses approaching us wanting to move into the Town Square. … The word has gotten out, and I think people are getting excited and want to be a part of it.” Fletcher added that the square has already seen an influx of activity and social media traffic. “We placed a geocache in the square, and we’ve had over 100 people coming in looking for it.”

Throughout the presentation on Monday, Fletcher and Hix repeated the sentiment that none of their plans will be possible without the active support of the community.

“Everything hinges on that General Plan,” District 4 Supervisor Dennis Mills told the Enterprise on Tuesday. He stated that CV Development’s plans will likely not experience any pitfalls with the current Board of Supervisors and an updated General Plan, though he added that other projects in Copperopolis have floundered in spite of county approval.

“My fear is that a project would come out and be partially finished and left to languish,” Mills said. “Hasn’t that been the case with the Copper Town Square? How many years has it taken to get here? I think Tom and Mike both agree that it needs to get done.”

Some other concerns expressed by Mills were the ability of resources like fire protection and sewage infrastructure to keep up with increased development in Copperopolis, which has a population of less than 4,000.

“I think that there needs to be an economic impact study done,” Mills said. “I don’t think any of the (Copperopolis) basin has undergone that level of scrutiny.”

Despite his concerns, Mills expressed his overall support of the plans in Copperopolis: “I’m just happy for the new interest from these folks who are willing to take the risk here in Calaveras County – this is a financial risk. Hopefully they and the community will be rewarded for their effort.”

01/30/19 Correction:  A previous version of this article listed up to 1,390 homes to be built by CV Development Partners. The actual number is 800, while 1,390 is the aggregate total of homes that may be built in Saddle Creek, including the 590 homes that have already been built by Castle & Cooke. Castle & Cooke had a total of 1,650 residential lots approved by the county. 

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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