By Rene Ray De La Cruz
HESPERIA — Cold temperatures, the threat of rain and food from In N Out Burger welcomed city and community leaders to the groundbreaking ceremony of the West Main Villas apartment project on Monday.
Co-developers Bruno Mancinelli and Joseph Chirco welcomed the group to the event site where 200 luxury-style apartments will stand near the corner of Main Street and Mesa Linda Avenue, just east of Highway 395 in Hesperia.
“We had the millennial generation in mind way before we started moving on this project,” Mancinelli told the Daily Press during the ceremony. “These will be high-end, market rate, condo-style duplexes that will have a single family home and neighborhood feel to them.”
Located on 50 acres, across from Tractor Supply Co., the gated community will include 172 one-story units along with 28 two-story units, with approximately 3 acres of commercial property sitting between Main Street and the project.
Calling the project another notch on the City of Hesperia’s development belt, Mancinelli told the group he began eyeing the area about 10 years ago, knowing it was destined for major growth.
“We want our residents to enjoy the beautiful view of the area,” Mancinelli told the group, adding that residents also will enjoy the nearby shopping and freeway access. “This project was not just a project for us, it was a lifestyle.”
Before the event, Mancinelli told the Daily Press the portion of the Main Street corridor situation between Interstate 15 and Highway 395 is a hotbed for new investment opportunities.
“This area is close to the freeway and near 100 acres of shopping development,” Mancinelli said. “The closer you can build to L.A., the closer to the nucleus of success you’ll be.”
Located across the street from West Main Villas, phase two of the High Desert Gateway shopping center will break ground soon with phase one including Starbucks and a Shell gas station. Gateway one, which includes Super Target, will see the opening of Famous Footwear in April and Planet Fitness in May, the Daily Press reported.
Mancinelli told the group the project, located along the “sensitive area of the Oro Grande Wash,” involved biologists, arborists and other environmental experts.
“It’s a beautiful area and we want to keep it that way,” Mancinelli said. “The West Main Villas will be a safe and quiet neighborhood, and will have that spread out feel.”
Chirco told the Daily Press the co-developers’ sons, both named Michael, will take the baton and oversee construction of the housing units through to a ribbon cutting sometime this summer.
“We’re currently building the community and recreation area for the development,” Michael Mancinelli told the Daily Press, as heavy equipment operators moved dirt just yards away. “Our community will include walking trails, with exercise equipment stationed along the way.”
The Villas’ one-story design includes a two-bedroom floor plan at 1,074 square feet and the two-story plan is three bedrooms at 1,330 square feet. All units will include private rear yards enclosed by six-foot high vinyl fences.
The project also will include a six-foot high wrought iron fence and water-efficient landscaping along its perimeter, with a beach-entry pool, volleyball court, kids fun zone and gym inside the community. A total of 486 parking spaces are planned for the complex that will include attached two-car garages.
The developers also will construct street improvements including curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the project frontages of Main Street and Mesa Linda Avenue, with the developer paying all applicable city development impact fees to offset the project’s impact on local traffic, the Daily Press reported last year.
Mayor Paul Russ and City Economic Development Management Analyst Lisa LaMere told the group there’s a demand for “market rate apartments in the High Desert and Southern California, especially for millennials and for baby boomers that want to downsize.”
“This is perfect timing for that demographic,” Russ said. “And with 83,000 residents traveling down the hill every day, having these here is going to be good for the city.”
As In N Out Burger associates prepared to serve guests from the company’s cookout trailer, the mayor told the group the developers are based in the High Desert, with Russ helping Chirco with a loan over 30 years when he was in the banking industry.
“It was for a gas station and it was over a million dollars — back when a million dollars meant something,” Russ said. “I did a lot with Joe — then Bruno became a customer — so it really is a coming home and a pleasure to continue to do work with such great people that I’ve known for all these years.”
Mayor Pro Tem Russ Blewett told the Daily Press the Villas will be the “premiere apartment project in the High Desert,” with the “lending community placing a greater trust” in projects coming to Hesperia.
“The Villa’s 55 plus senior community on the other side of the freeway are government-assisted units, but we have a couple of other apartment projects coming that will be market rate,” Blewett said. “That says a lot about the City of Hesperia’s view toward development and the future.”