Developers drop Atascadero Eagle Ranch project

Faced with opposition from community members and financial uncertainties, a team of developers scrapped plans to build hundreds of homes, a resort and more on the southern edge of Atascadero.

Jeff and Greg Smith of Ventura had planned to develop a 3,457-acre property just outside the Atascadero city limits. The Smiths and their development firm Smith-Hobson LLC had been asking the city to annex the property.

Plans called for 494 single-family homes, 93 multi-family units, a 100-room hotel and resort, a village center, restaurant, a park and a equestrian staging area. Additionally, the plans included miles of roads, multi-use trails and open space.

In February, the city of Atascadero released a draft environmental impact report for the project, which drew hundreds of comments. A group of Atascadero residents challenged the draft EIR.

Later, financial analysis of the development proposal indicated the project might cost the city more than the money that it would raise. Taking into account analysis of the feasibility and marketability of the project, Smith-Hobson announced in June that it was putting the project on hold.

Then this week, the Eagle Ranch team informed the city it would not proceed with the project, an Atascadero news release states. Jeff and Greg Smith issued a statement explaining their decision.

“We have spent the last year rethinking and searching for solutions, but in the end, the economics of the Eagle Ranch Specific Plan simply don’t work. We wanted a project with many amenities and much open space, but the cost of implementing our vision consistent with community expectations and demands created an overwhelming hurdle. The resulting homes would have been more expensive than the local market could bear, and we didn’t want to create a place only for the super wealthy. We are terribly disappointed to give up the project, but we cannot disregard the facts. We met with the mayor, city manager and community development director to share this message personally and express appreciation for the hard work of the city of Atascadero throughout this process,” the Smiths said in the statement.

Both Mayor Tom O’Malley and City Manager Rachelle Rickard issued statements praising the Eagle Ranch team. O’Malley said the developers’ professionalism was “exemplary and humbling,” and Rickard said the city “couldn’t have asked for a better team to analyze every detail of the project.”