A real estate company led by former La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine C. Alessio and her father, Ted Christensen, is building a housing development on the site of a former rock quarry that closed in the 1950s.
“The whole thing came to be out of an old rock quarry that no one cared about and no one thought anyone would do anything about,” Alessio said. “My dad was driving down the freeway one day and said, ‘I think I can put houses on that old quarry.’ Lots of people in La Mesa remember it. Kids would go out there and climb the walls and get stuck.”
The result is Cantera, a development that will have 32 single-family homes on the 2.5-acre site at 8234-8296 High Street, sold as condominium units.
Because of the zoning on the property, the unusual arrangement allows the company, NTC Development, to build more homes on the site as condominium units than they could have if they sold them as conventional single-family homes, Christensen said.
“It was allowed within the zoning, whereas if I didn’t do it as condominiums, I couldn’t get anywhere near the density that I have,” Christensen said. “It’s unique in the perspective that you have a condo unit, but it is a house by itself. You don’t have somebody on top of you or next to you. You can actually look out your windows and see something.”
As with typical condominiums, buyers will own the inside of their homes, but the structures and the land will be owned by a homeowners’ association.
“It’s like a regular housing development only you don’t have separate lots,” Christensen said. “It’s not a typical concept. Usually, if you’re building condominiums, they look like apartments, but I couldn’t envision myself living in something like that. If I have to live in town some place, I’d much rather have space around me.”
Christensen said that he originally planned to build a more conventional condo development, but changed his mind because it wouldn’t have been a place that he’d want to live.
“I didn’t like the idea of being so close that you could hear your neighbor’s toilet flush,” Christensen said.
Cool and Unique
Designed by Zara Zae Giganti-Stover, principal of InDev, Alessio said the homes will be contemporary modern in appearance. She said the design was roughly based on a single-family home that her father built in Le Grand, an unincorporated community in Merced County.
“It’s very self-contained, clean and modern with lots of wood and glass,” Alessio said, adding that instead of typical stairway banisters, “there’s a single glass rail.”
“It’s just so cool and unique,” Alessio said. “The project manager is first in line to buy one of the houses. My daughter, who is 24, is second in line. Part of me wants to sell my house in La Mesa and buy one of these just because I don’t need the big house now.”
The two-story homes will have three different floor plans of 1.019 square feet, 1,457 square feet, and 1,286 square feet, Alessio said. She said prices for the market-rate homes will start around $850,000.
“We’re trying to make them as inexpensive as possible, not built inexpensively but to sell them as inexpensively as we can,” Christensen said. “What we’re building is high-end looking with the best possible features.”
Four of the homes will be designated affordable earmarked for those with family incomes 120% or less of the area median income, Alessio said.
Each of the homes will have a private deck and a carport.
NTC Development bought the rock quarry in October 2015 from The McClurken Family Trust, Alessio said. She declined to say how much the property cost.
“We sat on it because we were working on other projects and we thought, well, it’s time to work on this,” Alessio said.
Construction started on the first 16 homes in August with completion of the entire development expected in 2025.
Christensen, who is president of NTC Development, has been a home builder since 1976.
“His specialty is really taking properties that no one thinks can be built on effectively and turning them into housing,” said Alessio, a land-use attorney who served on the La Mesa City Council from 2012 to 2020 and is vice president of NTC Development.
NTC Development, Inc.
Headquarters: El Cajon
CEO: Nels T. “Ted” Christensen
Business: housing development
Notable: NTC has built more than 450 homes, primarily in East County.