Luxury Development at Rancho Santa Fe in Courtroom Spotlight

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe is one of the most elegant real estate developments of San Diego County. The project includes 235 luxury homes surrounding a championship golf course and a country club. The Bridges [...]

The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe is one of the most elegant real estate developments of San Diego County. The project includes 235 luxury homes surrounding a championship golf course and a country club. The Bridges development has a tormented past which in the end, according to Signon San Diego, led to the bankruptcy of two developers, the collapse of a local bank and now possible jail time for a local minister.

The project, which was started in the mid-1980s by Nicolas Marsch and Ronald Williams, features Renaissance-style villas which are priced from $3 million to $14 million over a 541-acre property. In 1999 Lennar Homes took over Williams’ stakes in the project. A series of legal actions and accusations between Lennar and Marsch led the latter to hiring Barry Minkow. Besides being a pastor of San Diego’s Community Bible church, Minkow was also running a fraud investigation business. According to the same source, Minkow had been previously convicted and served seven years in a federal prison following one of Wall Street’s biggest Ponzi schemes. Now he is awaiting sentencing, after being accused of launching a storm of false accusations and misleading information. According to the LA Times, Minkow agreed that he owes Lennar $583.5 million in damages.

In other news, according to Reuters, San Diego is already the No.1 “Solar City” in California and is now poised to turn its attention to wind power. In order to adhere to the renewable portfolio standard requiring at least 33 percent electrical energy derived from clean sources by 2020, the state of California is relying on San Diego. At the moment the city has over 6,700 solar installations totaling over 90 megawatts. Idebrola Renewables is in the permitting stages for a 200-megawatt wind project in the McCain Valley. At the same time the only existing wind farm in the county, the 50-megawatt Kumeyaay Wind Farm, is planning an extension. The developer, Invenergy, has partnered with San Diego Gas & Electricity to construct a new 160-megawatt installation in the area.