Undeveloped Murieta land is on the market again – this time publicly

Published September 1, 2010, by RanchoMurieta.com

The for-sale listing is nestled between an office building in Carmichael and a mall in Rancho Cordova. There it is: Lands of Rancho Murieta, 700 acres. It’s the Pension Trust Fund of the Operating Engineers offering to sell its remaining undeveloped land in Rancho Murieta.

The property for sale is described like this: “Remaining 700 +/- acres of undeveloped Rancho Murieta master plan plus two 18-hole championship golf courses, clubhouse, driving range and tennis complex.” No price is given.

“We have a number of different types of buyers looking at the property with a number of different ideas as to what they want to do with the property,” Kenneth Noack Jr., Grubb & Ellis senior vice president, said Wednesday. He is the real estate broker for the sale. He wasn’t willing to discuss the price.

The PTF has owned the land, off and on, for more than 40 years. Many times in recent years, it has been rumored that PTF wanted to sell the remaining land. Two years ago, a community official said the PTF had recently tried to sell the property as a bloc but couldn’t – with price as the problem.

There are indications the PTF has lowered the price in this depressed market.

“It’s been no secret that they’ve thought about selling it for a long time,” Community Services District General Manager Ed Crouse said Wednesday. “And we’ve heard rumors in the past that it was on the market various times since 2005.”

In addition to the Country Club, the property on the market includes the Operating Engineers training center, a part of the landscape for almost as long as there has been a Rancho Murieta.

On Wednesday, Vince Lepera, the Country Club’s president, said the PTF, as a courtesy, notified the club in July of its intent to sell the remaining undeveloped land.

“It does not affect the Country Club,” Lepera said. He said the PTF is focused on selling the undeveloped land, not the Country Club property. Anyway, “(a buyer) would have to honor the lease,” he said.

The club operates under a 55-year lease that expires in 2028. The lease gives the club the first right to buy its own property in the event of a sale, he said.

The PTF’s Rancho Murieta investment has had its ups and downs.

The pension fund has owned the land since the late 1960s, when it bought adjoining ranchland properties and water rights along the Cosumnes River and named the 3,500 acres Rancho Murieta. In 1969, the Operating Engineers dedicated the training center we see today and began moving earth to put in the infrastructure that would serve the new community. The North Course opened in 1971, followed by Murieta Village in 1972 and the first North homes and the clubhouse in 1973.

Eight years later, after 18 months of negotiations, a PTF deal to sell the Murieta land fell apart. The buyers were to be Davis agribusinessman Jack Anderson, Pacific Coast Building Products Inc. and Sacramento developer Robert C. Powell.

In 1985, Jack Anderson paid the PTF $42.2 million for 1,400 acres, including the Country Club land. In 1997, at a foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps in Sacramento, the PTF bought back most of the land for $20 million.

Ten years ago, Robert J. Cassano and Gerry N. Kamilos, developers acting as agents for the PTF, proposed the build-out of Rancho Murieta North, a plan that encountered considerable community opposition. Four years ago, the PTF turned its back on the plan.

John Sullivan, who represents landowners in the area and has proposed developing their land, was well aware of the PTF’s plans Wednesday.

“Rancho Murieta is still a great place and it needs to in the hands of somebody that cares,” he said. “Whoever it goes to, they need to be community people.”

In a series of interviews, some of them off the record, the notion was sounded repeatedly that a sale could be positive, a new beginning for the community.

“It’s certainly on the market because I’m receiving lots of calls and lots of inquires from lots of different walks of life,” said Noack, the broker. “We’ll see how she goes.”