HAYWARD — Though the weather was gloomy and rainy 1,200 feet up on a golf course in the hills overlooking the Bay, the atmosphere inside the plastic event tent at Stonebrae's Country Club's grand open house Saturday was anything but gloomy.

Guests munched on hot dogs with sauerkraut and cheered each other with glasses of lemonade, including the club's membership director, Dan Arroyo.

"This is turning into a magnet, a social hub in Hayward," he said.

Just a few feet away, at hole 3 on the club's golf course, which is planned to open this summer, the view stretched from the San Mateo Bridge to the North Bay.

Though the 30,000-square-foot country club building is still being designed, Stonebrae at the top of Fairview Avenue — the East Bay's newest community — welcomed neighbors to walk through its new modelhomes, all priced at well over a million dollars.

Event coordinator Dayna Haraguchi said, "We're looking at this as a huge family, so that we have a community by the time the clubhouse is built."

At Saturday's open house, curious visitors overfilled the parking lot at Stonebrae Elementary School, which opened in the fall, and boarded buses to take them into the gated community.

Stonebrae, which means "stony hill" in Gaelic, was formerly ranch land and was bought to be developed in the 1970s.


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Executive director Steve Miller has been in charge since 1995.

While giving personal tours in a golf cart, Miller said, "This is a phenomenal turnout. We weren't sure with the rain; we were expecting 500 people, but at least three times that many have come."

A cable-car bus carted visitors between three neighborhoods of homes built by three different builders that varied in size and price. The tour started with the fanciest units — Carrick Village by Toll Brothers — at 5,000 square feet each. Next it visited Stirling Village by Standard Pacific Homes and then on to the smaller 2,000-square-foot house Warmington Homes California.

Realtors stood ready to explain pricing and custom options as gourmet desserts and snacks were served. All the houses that visitors saw, though in various stages of construction, have already been sold, adding up to 214 homes. There are lots for 580 homes through the three builders and many other lots available for custom builders.

The community will also feature 41/2miles of trails that will wind up to the clubhouse, which will be perched on the highest point of the terraced community and surrounded by a 225-acre golf course. Nearly 80 percent of Stonebrae's total acreage is protected as open space and natural habitat.

Robyn Woidtke and Pamela Thomas, who have lived in Castro Valley for 12 years, spent the afternoon at the open house. As mothers, they said they were looking for functionality, family space, safety and room to entertain.

Woidtke said, "You spend a million bucks and have no backyard."

Thomas liked the fact that the laundry rooms were upstairs in many of the homes, but felt the balconies next to many of the children's bedrooms were unsafe.

Woidtke said the extra bedroom on the ground floor of many of the homes, with its own bathroom and close proximity to the kitchen, was good for the time that a grandparent might be living there.

Karen Fuller of Fairview, which is located north of the development, also enjoyed the layout in the homes and said the interiors in all three Villages' houses were beautifully decorated. Her daughter Jackie, 18, pointed out that none of the girls' rooms had desk space, though many of the boys' rooms did.

Karen Fuller's husband Thomas Fuller, 59, said he came to open house for the entertainment.

He said, "I never saw an open house like this before."

Rachel Cohen can be reached at (510) 293-2463 or at rcohen@angnewspapers.com.