Home buyers start moving this week into Westlake Pointe, a former Westlake Village rock quarry that will eventually become a $20-million gated community of 64 town houses.
It hasn't been an easy task for developer Keith Armstrong to turn the 20-acre site near Lindero Canyon Road and Ridgeford Drive into an upscale residential community.
For centuries, the site was nothing but hilly terrain and piles of volcanic rock. Trees, flowers and shrubbery couldn't grow, and no one could find a way to build on it.
One company tried to use the site as a rock quarry in the early 1960s, but closed down only a few years after it opened.
Enter the 29-year-old Armstrong. A third-generation builder, his father and two uncles were among the first developers of Westlake Village. The family bought the property and began making plans to develop it.
It took more than six years for Westlake Pointe to gain the approval of more than a dozen government agencies. After he got the final go-ahead in November, 1983, Armstrong began removing the 150,000 cubic yards of solid rock.
"It was really a tough job," Armstrong recalls. "We brought in some Catepillar D-10s--the biggest bulldozers made--and the rock just tore holes in the bulldozers' teeth.
"We finally just had to start using dynamite," he adds, "and it still took a whole year to move the rock that had to be moved."
With the help of Lee Newman, a prominent Westlake architect, Armstrong has since been able to resculpture the rugged terrain so he can build on the property while retaining its natural beauty. The developer claims he has spent about $1 million to plant California poppies, clover and the few other types of native vegetation capable of thriving in such rocky terrain.
Sixteen of the town houses in the 34-unit first phase of the development have been completed, and all 64 homes are expected to be finished by August, 1987. Prices, however, aren't exactly rock-bottom: They start at $265,000, and go as high as $355,000.