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I posted on Monday that I’d heard some information about the cancellation of a green condo development in Bankers Hill.

Turns out, the project hasn’t been cancelled, it’s just changed hands. I went to the construction site today on Brant Street in Banker’s Hill to look around, and ran into the two new owner-builders for the project – San Diego general contractors Ron Ramos and Jon Bolich.

Between them, they’ve built almost 8,000 homes – detached homes, bed-and-breakfasts, affordable housing, luxury homes and retirement communities. They just installed the phone lines in their on-site office today.

“It’s just another niche,” Ramos said of the considerations for building green. They told me about features like fresh-air circulators – the ocean breeze blows at about 6 mph across the property almost constantly, they told me – and strategies for using materials like fallen lumber instead of cut lumber.

“They’re not just gimmicks,” Ramos said. He drew a parallel between green residential developments and Birkenstock sandals.

“They’re ugly, but people pay more for them,” he said. Of course, Ramos doesn’t expect the development to be aesthetically ugly. He’s referring to some of the elements of the plan which he terms “over-engineered” – like 91 structural supports already in the ground that might normally be used to construct freeways or buildings of seven or more stories. (The condo project will be three stories.)

Ramos and Bolich expect to adopt most of the plans designed by top architects that former owner/developer Craig Brod had published to the oldproject website.

Bolich said he’s confident that if an earthquake split through Bankers Hill, this project would stand while many of the older homes in the area would be leveled.

The official sign-over from Brod to the new owners was August 1. While Bolich and Ramos were reluctant to speculate on Brod’s reasons for pulling out of the project, they are confident the project will start to pick up speed with them at the helm.

“There are two things that are hard to do in developing,” Ramos said. “One is to start, and the other is to finish. That’s why it’s the right relationship for the owners to be the builders, too.”

The new owners expect to resume construction at the beginning of next month, with a tentative finish date of July 30, 2007.

KELLY BENNETT

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