|It is said in the real estate business that one need only know three things: location, location and location. Tom Gray and his partner Don Wilcoxon realized that they also needed to know three things about the 20,000 acres then known as Rancho San Carlos, but a slightly more complicated three things: location, scale and natural resources which combined to create a unique development opportunity requiring careful and creative thinking. The location was world-class adjoining Carmel and Pebble Beach. The scale was immense, the largest private landholding in Monterey County, but could be destroyed by thoughtless subdivision. The natural resources were boundless assets which could be devalued by scaring roads and misplaced homes. What followed is the most comprehensive evaluation of privately-owned natural and scenic resources ever undertaken.
|With wise planning oversight from Dave Howerton and his team at Hart|Howerton, they set out on a four year resource analysis. An army of some 50 scientists studied every aspect of these 31 square miles, from wildlife migration patterns and habitat to climate variations and vegetation. They roamed the land, noting aesthetic qualities and natural resources demanding to be protected. Their findings were combined in a computerized Geographic Information System and produced interrelated maps identifying a myriad of important elements critical to maintaining the landscape’s majesty. Overlaying these mapped resources allowed the land to speak for itself and ultimately led to the most important decision: to create only 300 homesites on 20,000 acres and protect 90 percent of the land from any development in perpetuity to be known as The Santa Lucia Preserve. The scale of this property is difficult to comprehend, but if the Preserve’s residential density were applied to the Island of Manhattan, pop. 1.6 million, the New York City borough would hold 197 households.