The next Del Webb community in San Joaquin County is breaking ground in Lathrop in 2022.

Del Webb at River Islands will consist of 900 single-story homes ranging from 1,450 to 2,765 square feet with two and three bedrooms.

The age-restricted active adult community for those 55 and older will include a recreation center featuring a swimming pool, fitness center, bocce courts, tennis courts, and pickleball courts. The neighborhood is expected to open in late 2022.

River Islands President Susan Dell’Osso noted the Del Webb community is a perfect fit for the 11,000 home planned community being developed on the 4,800-acre Stewart Tract.

The year 2022 when Del Webb is expected to start selling homes is the same year River Islands High is targeted to open.

River Islands offers unparalleled access to the San Joaquin River complete with what will be an 18-mile greenbelt loop with an uninterrupted walking trail encircling the development without a need to worry about vehicle traffic crossing it. The loop — accessible to anyone that includes non-River Islands residents — offers commanding views of the San Joaquin River main channel, Old River, and Paradise Cut that connects the main channel with the Old River as a winter bypass for floodwaters.

The first Del Webb community in the Northern San Joaquin Valley — the 1,406-home Del Webb at Woodbridge in north Manteca — sold its last lot in late 2017 some 11 years after it opened.

Pulte Homes, the firm that owns Del Webb, had been exploring a possible new neighborhood option adjacent and/or just north of the Woodbridge neighborhood up until a year ago.

The only current age-restrictive neighborhood selling homes in the South County area is The Collective by TruMark homes in Manteca. Several builders are offering homes between the mid $400,000s and the low $600,000s in the 478-lot gated community on Louise Avenue west of Cottage Avenue in east Manteca.

Del Webb opted for Manteca for its first Northern San Joaquin Valley development after they conducted surveys of potential Bay Area buyers of where they’d be interested in living in a Del Webb community. They were surprised when Manteca came up as the first choice by a wide margin.

Conducting follow up interviews they found Manteca had strong name recognition for those Bay Area residents that travelled to the Sierra and Yosemite. It was also perceived as a place they could stay close to the Bay Area and easily access cultural events and visit families and friends as well. Lathrop meets those same desires.

The decade it took Del Webb to sell most of its homes that could only be bought by households where one resident has to be 55 years or older was without a doubt the Del Webb Decade in Manteca.

Del Webb helped Manteca weather the Great Recession because what was perhaps bad timing for Pulte Homes was good timing for Manteca as the first homes started going up as the housing bubble started to burst.

Because Del Webb is aimed at households nearing retirement or already retired who tend to have middle class wealth, home sales continued while they fizzled elsewhere. The annual sales pace wasn’t exactly what Pulte initially projected but it was enough when coupled with the city’s development agreements with standard single family home builders that created a situation of sewer allocation certainty prompting banks funded improving lots in bigger chunks for Manteca to keep building and selling homes.

During a five-year stretch that covered the plunge and the trough of the housing crisis, Manteca was building roughly 300 housing units a year. That was more than was built in all of the combined jurisdictions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties during any of those five years stretching from 2006 to 2010. And during those years Del Webb consistently built roughly a third of all new homes sold in Manteca.

The infusion of Del Webb consumer dollars at the time along with two other concerns opening just as the Great Recession hit — Bass Pro Shops with its 100-mile draw for sales tax and Costco that brought sales tax leakage to Modesto and Stockton back to town as well as lured consumer dollars from Lathrop and Ripon — helped sales tax grow while it was backsliding in nearby cities. Both Bass Shops along with Orchard Valley as well as Costco were landed by Manteca through the use of sales tax sharing deals.

Del Webb played a key role in helping soften the impact on jobs in the Manteca retail, service, and restaurant sectors.