Monday, July 21, 2008

Diablo Grande

Perhaps the first mistake was the name?

Nested in bone-dry Oak Flat Valley in the Diablo Range 8 miles west of Patterson and Interstate 5, Diablo Grande was touted as a "world-class destination resort and planned residential community." Among its most desirable features are two golf courses, the most prominent of which was designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazen.

Diablo Grande was to be among the largest land developments in the history of Stanislaus County. Sprawling across some 28,500 acres of ranchland - roughly twice the size of Manhattan - developer Donald Panoz, multimillionaire inventor of the nicotine patch, envisioned 5,000 to 10,000 homes, a resort hotel and spa, six golf courses, an equestrian center, vineyards, a winery and commercial properties, including a high-tech research park.

But today, after Panoz and his partners sank more than $120 million into the project, Diablo Grande is mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and is expected to go on the auction block within weeks. The minimum bid is $25 million. If no one bids more, then Housing Source Partners, a Pismo Beach (San Luis Obispo County) condominium developer, will acquire the project, and about $54 million in unpaid debts.

If only they'd gone with El Gran Diablo Anaranjado...