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Five things you should know about Rancho Mission Viejo’s newest development

Five things you should know about Rancho Mission Viejo’s newest development

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Residents can tend to crops at Esencia Farm, next to The Canyon House.TOMOYA SHIMURA, STAFF

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Take Ortega Highway to Antonio Parkway. Take Antonio Parkway north to Cow Camp Road. Follow Cow Camp Road to Esencia Drive and turn left on Esencia Drive. Parking and shuttle pickup will be on the right. Esencia’s new roadways may not be available on your GPS.

Esencia, south Orange County’s newest community, will open its doors to the general public on Sunday.

Visitors will have access to 42 different model homes, starting from the upper $ 400,000s to more than $ 1.2 million. There will be a shuttle tour of 12 neighborhoods in the village, as well as refreshments and entertainment.

Esencia, Spanish for “essence,” is expected to feature more than 2,800 houses and apartments along the hills east of San Juan Capistrano when completed. It is the second phase of the latest project by Rancho Mission Viejo Co. – which developed the communities of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Ladera Ranch out of its 312-square-mile holdings.

The first phase, a 1,200-home development at Antonio Parkway and Ortega Highway called Sendero, is on the verge of selling out, Rancho Mission Viejo officials said.

Whether you are a prospective homebuyer or a nearby resident, here are five things you should know about Esencia:

1. It has an ocean view – sort of.

What sets Esencia apart from Sendero is topography, Rancho Mission Viejo spokesman Dan Kelly said.

While Sendero sits in the valley – you can see the homes beneath as you drive south on Antonio Parkway – Esencia is perched on some of the highest hills of the Rancho Mission Viejo land.

Homes in Esencia overlook canyons and ridges stretching toward the Pacific Ocean and are surrounded by backcountry panoramas. On clear days, you can get a tiny glimpse of the ocean, off Dana Point, sticking out between distant hills.

2. Bringing young and old together.

Rancho Mission Viejo officials say things have changed over the past several decades and their community development has evolved to accommodate them.

One example is Esencia’s 55-plus neighborhoods called Gavilan.

Unlike Sendero, Esencia’s 55-plus neighborhoods don’t have gates that seclude them from the rest of the community. While residents in the Gavilan communities have exclusive access to some amenities, Esencia is designed to encourage interaction between different age groups, Kelly said.

Baby boomers don’t want to distance themselves from the younger generations and instead participate in various activities such as mountain biking and enjoying craft beer, Kelly said.

Esencia offers hiking trails and pathway for electric carts so residents don’t have to use their cars to get to Sendero and amenities within Rancho Mission Viejo.

3. Reflecting the land heritage.

Much of Rancho Mission Viejo and South County used to be cattle pasture, and Rancho Mission Viejo officials say they want to maintain the ranch heritage even when the land is developed.

Esencia’s community clubhouse and temporary visitor center is a barn-style building called The Canyon House, inspired by The Carneros Inn in Napa. Featuring a cafe and meeting rooms, it’s expected to be a social hub for Esencia residents.

Adjacent to The Canyon House is Esencia Farm. It’s a community farm where residents can sign up to partake in growing in-ground row crops and fruit trees.

4. Alternate roadways are under construction to alleviate traffic.

The county Board of Supervisors in 2004 adopted the South County Road Improvement Program to alleviate traffic stemming from the Rancho Mission Viejo development.

A key roadway under the improvement program is Cow Camp Road, which runs parallel to Ortega Highway and is the only road in and out of Esencia right now. It was designed to direct new residents off Ortega Highway.

Also, a new road called Las Patrones Parkway will run north-south on the east side of Esencia, connecting Cow Camp Road and the 241 toll road at Oso Parkway to take commuters to Rancho Santa Margarita, Foothill Ranch, Orange and Irvine. No date has been set for its opening.

5. A new school is slated to open in 2018.

The Rancho Mission Viejo development will add 228 high school students in 2018 and up to about 900 when all villages are built out, according to a district estimate.

The new Esencia K-8 school, part of the Capistrano Unified School District, is slated to open by fall 2018. K-8 students in Esencia will attend Las Flores elementary and middle schools until the Esencia school opens.

Contact the writer: 949-445-6397 or tshimura@ocregister.com

The Orange County Register – News Headlines : Real Estate News