The building of Santa Margarita, a 5,000-acre community to the east of Mission Viejo, officially began Thursday as development company officials broke ground for a major construction effort that will take about 15 years to complete.
About 19,000 homes are expected to rise from the site sandwiched between Mission Viejo and Coto de Caza, providing housing for an estimated 50,000 residents and employment for about 26,000 people.
Plans call for a 400-acre business and industrial area, a 230-acre town center, a shopping center and new schools, including a new Catholic high school slated to open in 1987. The residential area will surround a 15-acre lake, and 2,550 acres of open space are also planned.
The planned community will be the first phase of development of the 38,000-acre Rancho Mission Viejo, owned by the Richard O’Neill family, which also controls the development company. Residential sales are expected to begin in the spring.