MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) --Signs of the housing market crash still linger in north Merced where developers' dreams left behind empty lots covered in weeds. But last week, the planning commission voted four to three in support of the first large subdivision here since 2008.
"For us it's a normal process. It's a good sign that things are returning to normal," said David Gonzalves, Merced Development Services Director.
The plans call for 242 homes west of M Street near Arrow Wood Drive. The company behind the project is owned by Greg Hostetler who recently started building small numbers of homes again after years of focusing more on farming.
"Hopefully we do our job. People will walk, and connect, and part of the requirements are for him to invest in a very, very, nice bike path along the creek, so, you're trying to build not only homes but a community," said Gonzalves.
Critics of the plan argue many of the lots are not big enough-- with the smallest starting at 5,000 square feet. But supporters said they fit the area's master plan and will fill a need in the community.
"There are some working professionals who don't want yard maintenance, and also as prices to go back up. It provides affordable housing if it's a smaller lot," said Andy Krotik, Merced County realtor.
Krotik also points out this is just the beginning of a long process involving planning, infrastructure, and more. So homes won't be built for about two more years. He believes they'll be needed as enrollment at UC Merced continues to climb.
"It's causing a demand on rental housing, which ultimately causes a demand on housing all the way across. Whether it be owner occupied or rental, you're going to see that trend continue. So I think the timing of this development is good," said Krotik.