Hidden, Heavenly Harbor Bay Homes

You may have lived in the Bay Area for some time and never heard of Harbor Bay Isle. It sits as a tranquil, tree-lined oasis at the southern tip of Alameda, tucked between Mecartney Road (its southern boundary) and Island Drive (its eastern boundary). San Francisco Bay provides the northern and western borders.

But once you discover it, you may never want to leave. And if you buy a home there, you may not ever have to. “I would describe Harbor Bay as a place where people can live, work, and play. That was the original concept when it was developed,” explains Dennis Pagones, president of Harbor Bay Realty.

Nor do you have to go far to see how closely they have held to this vision. Pagones’ office sits in the middle of Harbor Bay Shopping Center, a full-service center where neighbors buy groceries, catch up over a cup of coffee, or walk next door to their local library. Across the street are the greens of the Chuck Corica Municipal Golf Complex, and the Harbor Bay Business Park sits on the opposite side of the course. The Harbor Bay Club, which boasts tennis courts and a swimming pool, as well as modern exercise equipment, is just down the street.

Of course, if you want to get away, you have plenty of easy options, too: Oakland International Airport is a five-minute drive away (or less, thanks to the Ron Cowan Parkway), and Harbor Bay is served by its own commuter ferry to San Francisco, as well as both local and Transbay AC Transit buses. The Oakland Coliseum and Fruitvale BART stations are also a short drive away, as is Interstate I-880.

Often, prospective homebuyers avoid planned communities, as “planned” tends to equal “stark”. Harbor Bay breaks that stereotype with an extensive lagoon system, shoreline paths, and a wide variety of modern homes.

The Harbor Bay community is divided into five “villages”, which in turn are further divided into individual developments, or neighborhoods. Each development differs in the style and types of housing, avoiding a “cookie cutter” look while, at the same time, providing a wide variety of housing options to prospective home buyers. Doric Development, Ponderosa Homes, Warmington Homes, Dividend Homes, Jules Duke, and Pulte Homes are just some of the developers who have built residences here, with the oldest homes built in 1978.

Pagones says Harbor Bay has every type of modern housing. “There are many types of housing styles, anything from about a 1,000 square foot condo town home at Center Court, all the way up to 6,000 square foot homes at The Headlands, as well as the custom-built homes at Promontory Point.” That means prices vary widely, too, starting in the upper-$400’s for the smaller condominiums, and ranging up to $2 million-plus for the custom-built homes.

Homeowners belong to two homeowners’ associations: The Harbor Bay HOA, which everyone belongs to, and the homeowners’ association for their particular development or neighborhood. Home buyers also have a choice regarding the care of their homes as well. Some developments take care of only common areas, while others take care of everything out of doors.

The range of options, neighborhood feel, and close proximity to amenities makes Harbor Bay Isle attractive over a much longer period of time. Many residents move homes, as their needs change, yet stay within the community. “They may start in a condominium or a town home, move up as their family grows, into a single-family home, and then, perhaps, back into one of the town homes again when they are empty-nesters,” Pagones says.

Jim and Sharon Stehr have lived in Harbor Bay since 1984. “It’s a paradise on earth,” Sharon says. “We rarely go vacationing anywhere more beautiful. Both of us are walkers, and the walking paths are just wonderful.” Sharon also notes that the climate is ideal: “When it is hot a lot of other places, it tends to be cooler here,” she says. The Stehrs may, indeed, be one of those couples who move from house to house within Harbor Bay — or just stay where they are. “We think of retirement, in another ten years or so,” Sharon says, “but when we look at ‘retirement’ areas, they just aren’t as appealing as where we are right now. This is the perfect place for retirement — for all ages, really.”

Ron Laper has lived in Harbor Bay since 1987, and has served as President of both the Harbor Bay Homeowners Association and his own local homeowners’ association as well. To those wary of even one homeowners’ association, much less two, Laper says the HOAs are an asset: “Our [the homeowners’ association’s] intent is to help maintain property values, so everything we do is meant to keep the community livable and pleasant, and to protect what, for many people, is their biggest investment.” Laper also notes that, “We have great neighbors and a great support structure. I can honestly say that I have never had any issues with my neighbors since moving here, and the homeowners associations are the reason — they eliminate those problems.”

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