Select a place that’s close to San Francisco with a top rated school system, study the rolling hills and area architecture, add in a seamless infrastructure and popular amenities, give families the opportunity to build their lifelong dream of a custom home, and a community that’s highly personal comes to life.
What do homeowners want today? A long list of features and amenities, according to savvy developers. Among the top choices are privacy, a good climate, quality housing—often customized, open spaces, top school system, safety, easy access to jobs, public transportation, recreation and amenities that foster a sense of community.
That’s why in 2005 Brooks Street, a real estate development firm based in Newport Beach and Napa, California, decided that a 1,600-acre parcel in Orinda would be an idyllic choice for a new master-planned community of custom homesites. The firm’s philosophy has long been “What isn’t built is just as important as what is” and this has become its mantra at Wilder as well. Another opportunity was that Orinda, a small, charming community in the East Bay’s Green Valley, with easy access from Highway 24, hasn’t seen new development on a large scale in decades. Brooks Street envisioned Wilder to become a place for homeowners seeking the opportunity to build the custom home of their dreams.
Wilder offers homeowners many advantages including a milder climate than in San Francisco and Oakland, relatively short commute to downtown San Francisco—25 minutes depending on traffic, a BART transit station in Orinda reached via a five-minute car ride, school system considered amongst the best in the state, and readily available recreation in Orinda and also in Napa with its vineyards and resorts, as well as Lake Tahoe, a longer but feasible three-hour drive.
The master plan calls for a total of 245 single-family homes, as small as one-quarter acre and up to one acre. All the homes nestle into the rolling hills, located on single loaded streets—150 feet above a neighbor for maximum privacy and quiet, and all relate to the 1,300 permanently preserved open spaces. Designed by the award-winning landscape architecture firm Hart Howerton, based in San Francisco, Wilder includes a dedicated network of trails for walking, biking, hiking and horseback riding. Neighborhood pedestrian, equestrian and bike trails link areas within Wilder to existing Orinda neighborhoods—and they even connect to the Robert Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve and existing Orinda trails. Wilder’s hundreds of acres of natural open space are alive with creeks, woods, hills and meadows. At Wilder, a lifetime of adventure is literally steps from every front door.
The landscaping took more than three years to make all as green and natural as possible. Native, mostly drought-tolerant plant materials have been chosen. Even the entry road into Wilder was designed to reflect the rural aesthetic with a mature Live Oak transplanted. Drifts of low shrubs were interspersed for a natural understory along with native grasses, perennials and wildflowers such as Lupines and California poppies for added texture and color. Pedestrian walkways have been thoughtfully paved, accented with colored concrete to blend in.
There’s a lot going on at Wilder now as families have moved in, homes are being constructed and the community is becoming alive with activity. There is a sense of community and a sense of escapism at the same time, and that’s hard to achieve these days.