Fontana is not a large city. It’s not even a small city. It isn’t a town, either. It’s a village. A little, sleepy village. Sure, it has a beautiful lakefront and cobbled stone walkways across its boulevard. The cobbled walkways even cross the highway. Fontana has enjoyed a revitalization over the past 10 years, due largely in part to the renovations at the Abbey Hotel. Those renovations have been consistent and impressive, and this year they have some new fancy entry signs that would make a weary traveler wonder if the hamlet of Fontana was actually the Abbey Village. The street projects, the perennial boulevard, the interesting architecture of the beach house and the facility at Reid Park, it’s all rather intoxicating. Personally, I think Gordy’s should receive the credit for making Fontana matter, as that lakefront scene has improved dramatically over the last twenty years. Still, Fontana.
Sure the Abbey Harbor was dug out of a water-filtering swamp, one filled with springs and wildlife, and now it’s a gasoline choked boat-swap, but the Abbey Harbor is still a main draw for an increasing number of boaters. This adds to the Fontana appeal, because no other community can offer that fine beach, with those cobbled walks, and those fancy public buildings, and that terrific park, and those lakefront restaurants near that large and continually improving hotel. Developers have noticed that Fontana is a highly desirable area, and they’ve decided it’s time to capitalize on that interest. Abbey Ridge was built of vinyl and new pine 2 x 4s, and sold out immediately. The Abbey Hotel turned condominium and sold out its vast supply of hotel rooms in no time at all- before everyone realized that condo-hotels were horrible creations. Then the Mill Street condominiums competed for the Most Boring Architecture award and sold with relative ease. Fontana has been hot for a while.
The Cliff’s of Fontana was the latest development to attempt to further the Fontana momentum, but buying land at peak prices, going excessively deep on infrastructure costs, and positioning a suburban looking product in a vacation home market has relegated that development to back-row status. Even though it has a front row seat, on the highway. Go figure. That highway, though the sidewalks across it are cobbled, still makes for a very significant divide between the haves and the have nots. That’s why the two new developments coming to Fontana in 2015 both feature locations that are on the lake-side of the highway, and in that, they have a serious advantage over everything (The Cliff’s) on the other side of that dividing artery.
First up is something called the Rowhomes of Fontana. If you think that name sounds suburban, good thinking, because it’s a development brought to us by another developer from Suburbia. The designs feature staunchly suburban looks, which is nice if you’re from the suburbs and want to feel like you’ve traveled some distance to find another suburb. The design bores me, the prices are in the $400s. They’ll be built this year near the Post Office in Fontana, which is a lame thing to look at, unless you’re a retired postal worker from the suburbs, in which case, this project will combine two of your passions.
The other property is very near the Rowhomes, but the location is much, much better. The architecture of this development was drawn by Jason Bernard (Lake Geneva Architects), which means the design is delightful and smart, and caters perfectly to the aesthetic that vacation home buyers are seeking. The location is close to Reid Park, which means it’s likely a 2 minute stroll to the Fontana lakefront, and there’s tremendous value in that easy, flat saunter. The development is called Lakeview Terraces, which is a grand attempt at out-milquetoasting the other milquetoasty name down the road. These units are also large and they feature two car garages, so I’m expecting these to be wildly popular. Large units, great location, brand new, architectural appropriate and interesting- what more could a developer present to the market?
Neither property is being marketed by yours truly, which is sad and shameful, but I’m happy to help you with both. The key to each is the overall size of the developments. The handsome development overlooking Reid Park will sell. The Rowhomes will struggle. That’s because suburban developers don’t understand our market, and they likely never will.
Fontana’s Beach House, photo by Matt Mason Photography.