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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
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Bonsall’s Beauty Sets the Scene for Perfect Rural Retreats

About 40 miles north of San Diego, west of Interstate 15 off state Route 76, is the small community of Bonsall.

With a population of just less than 4,000, Bonsall is set in a beautiful, green valley along the San Luis Rey River and is nestled along the valleys and foothills of the Peninsular Mountain Range. Its footprint is less than 33 square miles with Fallbrook to the north, Oceanside to the west and Vista to the south.

The living room with a chandelier that lowers electronically for cleaning at 5925 Lake Vista Drive in Bonsall.

The city was founded in 1889 by James Bonsall, a retired Methodist minister who developed a fruit tree nursery there. Today, the scenic rural roads, sometimes narrow and winding, add to its agricultural heritage.

According to the Bonsall community plan, residential lot sizes outside the village boundaries range from approximately one acre to 20 acres or more throughout the remainder of Bonsall. Regardless of lot size, the residential neighborhoods outside the village feel far removed from more congested areas of the county.

The front entry of an 8,828-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bath home at 5925 Lake Vista Drive in Bonsall.

There are 13 homes of more than $1 million currently on the market. The highest-priced property is $11.75 million for 192 acres with groves, pastures, three ponds, an indoor tennis building and three homes. The property, SLR Farm, is at 5965 Camino Del Rey and is listed by David Mossler, Billy Long and Patty Patterson of Teles Properties.

Marie Jo Atkins, of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, has a listing on the next highest-priced home in the area for sale at $4.49 million.

The property at 5925 Lake Vista Drive is in Toscana, a newer luxury home enclave developed by national homebuilder Barratt American. Built in 2005, the home was designed by noted San Diego-based architect Mark Lee Christopher of Sanctuary Architects.

Atkins said the house was built with a lot of love and that money was never an object, “never.”

San Diego-based Weir Bros. built the home in 2005. Weir Bros. started specializing in custom adobe structures in San Diego in 1948 and is now known as Weir Bros. Custom Homes Inc. in Rancho Santa Fe.

“They (the owners) hired the best of the best,” Atkins said. When you’re in the home, you forget where you are; it feels like a beautiful, high-end Santa Barbara estate.”

Atkins, who has been in real estate for 22 years, said the owners loved the Southwest and in particular Santa Barbara and wanted the home to reflect that ambience. The interior designer, Robert Wright, principal and co-founder of San Diego-based McCormick & Wright, was dispatched by the owners to the Arizona Inn in Tucson for inspiration on the design.

Atkins said the owners have a large family with lots of grandchildren and wanted a place to accommodate them all. The four-bedroom, five-bath home is 8,828 square feet with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

The home has white stucco walls with arched openings, terra-cotta patios and a red-tiled roof, but one of the most charming features is the story behind the guest cottage.

Atkins said the wife’s best friend was a retired Hollywood and television actress, Hillary Brooke. Brooke was a tall, willowy blonde with an English accent and played in several major films during Hollywood’s golden age and the dawn of television. When Brooke’s husband died (an executive with MGM), the owners built the guest cottage for her visits and named it after her.

“Everything in that room is reminiscent of that lady,” Atkins said. “It takes you back to the Clark Gable days of Hollywood, those “Gone with the Wind” days.”

Atkins has another listing in the top five highest-priced homes in Bonsall at 6025 Villa Medici, also in the Toscana development. The price was just reduced from $2.39 million to $1.99 million. The gated property is a seven-bedroom, five-bath home built in 2003 with 6,198 square feet. Perched high on a hill on 4.5 acres, it has striking views of the rolling hills, stretching out to the Pacific Ocean. The expansive grounds are secluded with pergolas wrapped in lighting, surround sound speakers and a full outdoor kitchen.

As it evolves from its farming and ranching roots, Bonsall by some comparisons is a bargain and poised for growth. Bonsall is controlled by the San Diego County Master Plan and, as such, it calls for a predominance of low-density, estate-size residential lots. More than 90 percent of Bonsall is zoned for lot sizes of two acres or more.

But change is on its way. According to several news sources, a sale of Vessels Ranch, a 1,400-acre equestrian ranch that anchored the community, closed escrow Sept. 30, 2015. Purchased by Ocean Breeze Ranch LLC., some of the property will be incorporated into a residential development and up to 400 homes may be built. The asking price was $55.6 million. No public records are available on what it fetched.

The ranch was purchased by the Vessels family in 1981 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC ended up with the property from San Diego tycoon, C. Arnholt Smith, who dominated politics and business in San Diego for decades before being brought down amid bankruptcy and scandal.

Sounds like a Hollywood screenplay to me.

Send luxury real estate items to sglidden@sdbj.com.

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