The Ultimate Home Field Advantage

As a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, Mark Melancon doesn’t spend much time in the outfield. On a recent Sunday, he made an exception.

The stands at San Francisco’s Oracle Park were empty, the hot dog carts were closed and the jumbotron was dark. But Mr. Melancon wasn’t there to play. Rather, he was completing a plan for his Mexican dream home, a 19,000-square-foot villa in a new development in Riviera Nayarit, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta.

A team from the project, including developer Ricardo Santa Cruz, had flown to California to re-create the floor plan for the mansion on the outfield using stakes and rope. The idea: Mr. Melancon would be able to walk through the near-finalized design at its actual scale to see if there was anything he or his wife Mary Catherine wanted to change. Mr. Santa Cruz’s team spent three hours measuring out the dimensions of the space, inserting green metal stakes into the outfield grass and dragging around long yellow ropes to mark the outlines of the rooms.

“Imagine you’re about 120 feet up in the air with the ocean below,” the developer said as he stood in what would be the home’s enormous 22-foot-by- 43-foot living room. He pointed out past the left field bleachers to the Coca-Cola fan lot, where a giant Coke bottle with playground slides inside lights up with every Giants home run. Looking out from the home in that direction, the Melancons would see the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Melancon, who owns a smaller home nearby, vacations frequently in Mexico with his family but found himself too busy preparing for the season to fly back and forth to sign off on the small details of the architectural plans. So, the project came to him—twice. The first time they mapped out the floor plan on the field last fall, he and his wife made changes to the main pool, which they realized was too narrow, and they redesigned the kitchen to make it more closed off from the other living areas.

The house, designed by Arizona architect Rick Joy, will be finished in 2020. It will have eight bedrooms, a gym, a casino and game room, two hot tubs and two pools, one for playing with the children and an infinity pool that appears to hang off the edge of the bluff.

“It is different to see it on paper than to actually walk it. When you can physically walk through rooms, it gives you a much better idea of the size,” said Mr. Santa Cruz, who is a partner of developer RLH Properties on the project.

Mr. Melancon points to a room on his house’s floor plan.
Mr. Melancon points to a room on his house’s floor plan.

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

The process, known as staking, famously made it onto the silver screen in the 2009 film “It’s Complicated,” starring Meryl Streep and Steve Martin as the architect she hires to design an extension to her house. Mr., Martin’s character stakes out the footprint for the addition in the yard and then takes her up on a ladder to show her the view from her new bedroom window. Mr. Santa Cruz said it is relatively uncommon to stake out projects, especially off-site. “I’ve rarely seen it done,” he said.

Messrs. Melancon and Santa Cruz needed a massive space. They originally discussed mapping out the floor plan in a nearby parking lot, but they worried they wouldn’t be able to keep cars out for long enough to complete their discussions. To everyone’s delight, Mr. Melancon suggested the baseball field. The Giants allowed them access to the field at no cost. Mr. Santa Cruz didn’t charge to come do the staking.

It took months to find a time when the field wasn’t in use—when not being used for games, it is often leased out for private events or commandeered by the grounds crew. During the initial walk-through, members of the grounds crew looked on with curiosity.

Mr. Melancon, left, and Mr. Santa Cruz stand in the footprint of Mr. Melancon’s house.
Mr. Melancon, left, and Mr. Santa Cruz stand in the footprint of Mr. Melancon’s house.

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

“They weren’t nosy but they’d come up and say ‘Wow, is that whole thing his house?’ ” Mr. Santa Cruz recalled. “That is one big house.”

It feels large to Mr. Melancon too. “It seems huge right now,” he laughed, staring out at the field.

A three-time All-Star, Mr. Melancon, 34, has been pitching for the Giants since 2017; he signed a four-year $62 million contract. He was called up to the majors by the New York Yankees in 2009 and has also played for the Washington Nationals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox, among others.

His house is one of about 120 being built on 640 acres in the Mexican jungle as part of a project called Mandarina. Mr. Santa Cruz spent years negotiating to buy the land. The sought-after site was an Ejido, a land cooperative owned jointly by more than 58 families who all had to agree to the sale. He declined to disclose what he paid for it. The site encompasses a one-mile long stretch of beach and mountains.

The houses range in price from about $4.5 million to $12 million, Mr. Santa Cruz said. Buyers purchase only the footprint of their houses, since the developers want to continue to control the landscape surrounding the properties. Mr. Santa Cruz said 14 of the homes are already sold.

Mandarina will be anchored by a beach resort operated by hotel brand One&Only. Mr. Melancon said his wife, who helps run the family’s synthetic turf business and operates some rental properties they own, had fallen in love with One&Only on a family trip to the Bahamas as a child. When she had the couple’s bucket list made out in calligraphy as a wedding gift for him, she included a stay at one of their hotels. Owning a home in one of their resorts was even better, he said.

The floor plan of the 19,000-square-foot home was outlined in Oracle Park using metal stakes and yellow rope.
The floor plan of the 19,000-square-foot home was outlined in Oracle Park using metal stakes and yellow rope.

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

For their three children, the resort will also have a BMX mountain biking track, a polo and equestrian center, a kid’s farm, kayaking, surfing and bird-watching. Once Mr. Melancon retires, he and his wife plan to spend several months there each year, he said.

They were among the first people to visit the site after it was sold and had their pick of parcels, climbing over jungle trees that had been razed to make way for the homes. They chose one on a private bluff overlooking the ocean, paying around $9 million for the completed home.

An inner courtyard is 60 feet and 6 inches, the exact distance between the pitching mound and home plate.

“We were like, ‘Mark, if you need to practice, you’ll have the exact same setup,’” Mr. Santa Cruz joked.

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