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Walnut Creek: what's it like?

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Joined: Apr 26 2003

We are currently in Oakland and have been considering moving further east to be closer to work and closer to the Walnut Creek shopping areas.

We found an Eichler for sale in the Northgate area of Walnut Creek and were just wondering what the neighborhood is like. The area is around Wiget Lane.

We have driven around the Rancho Miguel area, but have not been around Wiget Lane. Are the Eichlers around Wiget Lane reasonably original? Are there many additions/alterations? Were these houses more "custom" as they were built later (in the late 1960s I believe)? What are the neighbors like?

We would appreciate any information anyone has about this neighborhood. Thanks.

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Joined: Jun 28 2003

We moved to Walnut Creek almost 2 years ago. We were lucky enough to find an Eichler home in the San Miguel development off San Antonio.

The homes off Wiget are newer and larger than the homes in the San Miguel track. We have a couple of friends in that neighborhood. They said these homes were built when Eichler started to have financial problems. They are built with the same Eichler Quality but they have noticed he did use some different building materials.

Our neighborhood is fantastic. Some of our neighbors turned into great friends.

Walnut Creek is a fantastic city to live in. The Downtown has a lot of dinning out and shopping possibilities.

Downtown Walnut Creek is defiantly an "IN" place to go.

Good luck. We have walked thru several open house and the Eichler’s in Walnut Creek move fast.

Here is another link for you to check out http://www.ranchosanmiguel.org

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Walnut Creek is definitively a desirable place to live, and the Northgate area is particularly good, especially if you have children:

good schools at all levels
quiet & safe
lots of open space and parks
close to shopping, dining etc
reasonable commute to the city if needed (BART)

As far as Eichlers go, there are basically 3 options:

Rancho San Miguel with some 200(?) mid-50's Eichlers
Some 20 60's Eichlers around Wiget Lane and Belford Drive
A handful of late custom Eichlers around Boundary Oaks Golf Course

Rancho San Miguel is probably still the most affordable corner of the Northgate district, because the homes and lots are relatively small. I live there myself and I wouldn't trade it for another place. For the true Eichler enthusiast this is the quintessential Eichler neighborhood, including Eichler-built swim club.

The Wiget Lane area has mostly Claude Oakland models, some of which are remarkably well maintained and in almost original condition. Those models are much bigger than the RSM models, typically about 2500sf, and obviously more expensive. However, many of them are right next to 2 story ranch homes which may affect your backyard experience.

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Joined: Apr 26 2003

Thank you, jnstahl and jeffsheldon for your responses.

We drove around the Wiget Lane Eichlers last night. That is a very nice neighborhood. For the most part, the power lines are below ground. The Eichlers are very well maintained and the lots are large. It does remind me, to some extent, of our neighborhood in Oakland, as our neigborhood has larger, later Eichlers mixed in with typical ranch houses.

Next, we need to drive around the Boundary Oaks Golf Course to see those late custom Eichlers. Thanks for the tip, jnstahl.

We noticed that there was some sort of construction project going on at the entrance to RSM. Is it some sort of street repair? Just curious.

We really like Walnut Creek with its very clean downtown and plenty of nice shops and restaurants. Walnut Creek seems like a very nice place to live.

We aren't ready to make a move yet, but want to explore all our options. Thanks again for your replies.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

The gas station that used to be at the corner of Ygnacio Valley and San Carlos Drive is being remodeled and modernized. Fortunately, the owner was willing to preserve our entrance wall with the original 'Rancho San Miguel' letters.

The Boundary Oaks Eichlers are around Valle Vista Road / Pazzi Road, in case that helps.

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Joined: Apr 4 2003

We live in an Eichler on Belford Drive in Walnut Creek and it was built in 1971. There aren't too many Eichlers in the Wiget/Belford/Clyde area but they all seem to be well maintained and mostly unaltered. The Eichlers that are near Boundary Oaks look to be the same same floor plans. These are all Claude Oakland designs. We have had no issues with the radiant heating system or plumbing system--all the materials used seem to be high quality and withstanding the tests of time.

Quite a few of the homes in this particular area (Eichler and non-Eichler) are still owned by the initial owners—and these owners tend to be very protective of this neighborhood. You will receive suggestions in terms of what type of fencing to put in or landscaping if you make it obvious you are contemplating changes. The residents try hard to preserve the area. I was told by one of my neighbors (who is an original owner) that there were three builders in this development with Eichler Homes building the fewest—and the last to be built. The models for the Eichlers were the ones on Wiget Lane near the Lutheran Church.

I appreciate the diversity of the home types and the lot-sizes are large so the occasional two-story rancher doesn't impact privacy. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure there are any two-story ranchers directly next door to any Eichlers, but there could be a few with two-story ranchers behind them. The lot size should make it a non-issue, though. There were some nice features to these homes—the master bath in most will have a sunken Roman-style tub and the front exteriors had louvered windows. Mahogany paneling was not used—at least not in ours. They are all quite large being 2300 to 2500 square feet.

It's a neighborhood with high “curb appeal”. People tend to keep to themselves but the pride in ownership is apparent.

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Joined: Jan 16 2004

The Clyde home is still "For Sale" and there are a couple coming up in Rancho San Miguel. Other than that not much inventory.
Go onto the ranchosanmiguel.org site for lots of Community Info.
This is a Great Neighborhood with some terrific homes and some that need a bit of TLC.
Its the people that make a neighborhood like this and "RSM" is a cool place to live and raise a family.
Walnut Creek is the place to be!

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Joined: Apr 26 2003

One thing I found interesting looking at the later Eichlers in Walnut Creek is that the floor to ceiling glass was no longer one huge sheet of glass.

Approximately 18" above the floor there was a horizontal mullion on the large glass walls. It was my guess that when these houses were built, it was mandatory that tempered glass be used when the window went to the floor. So, I am guessing that tempered glass was used on the lower portion and plate glass on the upper portion. I guess it was too expensive for Eichler to put in full sheets of tempered glass.

Also, the Eichler I saw, the one on Clyde, had tile countertops, which I guess were original. I guess Eichler was going more "upscale". Also the ceilings were painted, and I wonder if that was original too. I was thinking that maybe he could not get the same nice wood he could get before and just painted the ceilings.

To all you Walnut Creek people, you are fortunate to live in such a nice, clean community with so many amenities.

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Joined: Apr 4 2003

Our Belford Drive Eichler didn't have painted ceilings--luckily they were never painted over as I think it's one of the best features of the house--I would think originally they all had stained ceilings. The stain on the ceiling in ours looks to be a "driftwood" color. I have noticed a few subtle differences between the Eichler homes in the Wiget/Belford area--some had the 2x6 ceiling boards and I saw one that had narrower ceiling boards. Ours has the 2x6 size. You are right about the glass in the floor-to-ceiling windows--these later designs have a separation on the bottom third--probably not quite as attractive as a single sheet of glass (and definitely harder to keep clean in the atrium!). As for the counter-top tile--I am surprised if the home you saw is original as ours was one of the later ones built (1971) and it didn't have tile. They were built over several years--I think from 1968 or so to 1971 or so. When we bought ours, it was like stepping back to 1971 as practically nothing had been changed. There is a good picture of the original models circa 1968 on Wiget Lane in the "Eichler/Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream" book by Paul Adamson in the top right of page 215.

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