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About this City Journal

A jorunal of the growth of the Santa Bella region as I construct it.

Entries in this City Journal



UndercoverNinja12-Thanks. The amount of images I was able to get actually surprised me. I didn't know if I had enough for an entry until I actually took all of them.

malibu_man-Thank you. I'm glad to here that people enjoy the little snippets I add to the images. I'd do more zoomed out images, but I have had CTD issues in the past when trying to get them so I am a little hesitant when it comes to taking them.

Sunr-Thanks. That Brooklyn Village was very troublesome to develop, as all W2W districts can be. I was surprised it actually turned out that well.

Programming note: Entries will now be posted on Wednesdays instead of Mondays. RL has made it highly unlikely that I would be able to get them up on Mondays. Also, The next entry is not likely to be Downtown Bella Vista as I am having to work on creating demand to fill it out.

Development Teaser-Segmented Sound Walls

Since this journal is titled Building Santa Bella, I figured this would be as good a place as any to tease the side projects that come up as a result of creating this journal. Today, I am unveiling the first of these, my Segmented Sound Walls. Developed in large part because there hasn't been a decent set of sound wall developed in years, and no existing set I could find had walls for FA pieces, this set is my personal attempt to fill this void.

These walls are prop based, meaning they are extremely flexible. They are also based on a segmented design seen along I-43 in Milwaukee, WI (and other places I'm certain) which means that rather than trying to conform to the slope, each segment is raised or lowered slightly. The downside of this technique is usually that it results in large gaps under the walls, and while that it is still the case, the sgmented wall approach means that the walls must be placed on some very steep slopes for this to become apparent. Currently, I have 3 out of the 4 props needed for the set as well as all but 3 lots created. I still have to mod all the lots and do some polishing, but I thought they looked fairly presentable.



1) This picture was taken in a plugin free zone. Don't worry it's just faster to work this way.

2) A version of each lot without the base texture will be available.

3) At the moment this set has no extenders for going under other networks. They will be added later.





gman28-Thanks. At one time I had a mod that added cul-de-sacs at the end of streets and roads. I have seen plenty of urban street dead end without them, however.

Huston-Thank you. It's a little tougher since suburbs can tend to look identical after a while.

UndercoverNinja12-Thanks. More highway shots will be coming, though not in this update as the east side of the highway is not finished. Also rails will be making an appearance in the future. The past few entries just haven't been good areas for railroads.

ftwly-谢谢你! I hope that's correct.

Brook Haven District


First off, I'd like to apologize for the delay. RL slowed me up a bit. Now with that out of the way, this entry will focus on the western part of the Bella Vista tile. These images all come from the area to the southwest of the highway. Here we have the transition from the suburbs shown in the previous entries to the sizable downtown area of Bella Vista. The defining features of the area are an increase in population density--this tile hold more sims (85000) than the three previous entries combined--and the highway. The name Brook Haven is a bit of an homage to Brooklyn, because... well you'll see.


Many people mistakenly think that Brook Haven is the name of the district because of its similarities to parts of Brooklyn. While architecturally this may be true, the name actually originates from Brook Haven Street. While it is no longer a major thoroughfare, Brook Haven Street was originally one of the most important in the district. Back then the area was very similar to the suburbs to the west and Brook Haven Street lent its name to a few apartments. As the area grew the name became synonymous with area, even as the importance of Brook Haven Street waned.


Of course, the true origins of the Brook Haven name haven't stopped some from pointing out the similarities. Brook Haven is one of the older areas of Bella Vista. It's also home to a lot of New York style buildings and has developed a unique personality as result. Originally just a collection of random building owned by various companies in 2003 an enterprising investor bought up the properties and branded them as Santa Bella's "Brooklyn Village." The marketing ploy worked a now the Brooklyn Village is a popular place with new residents and young people just starting out.


Unfortunately, Brook Haven also has some Brooklyn-like problems. The area around Stone Creek Road has become infamous as a very dangerous place to be. Police are in the are regularly to respond to calls ranging from domestic violence to assault to gang fights. Many of these problems are attributed to the fact that Stone Creek fell behind the rest of the city and is now considered a "slummy area." This reputation has kept investors away and made the situation in Stone Creek worse. The desperation has led to the rise of local street gangs including the violent Slammers, now the most powerful gang in the neighborhood.


The Slammers have been a plague in recent years. A plague that only got worse when they began waging a street war against the Parker Family. The Parker Family is another of the local street gangs, though unlike most the Parkers were more or less harmless until the recent gang war. The Parkers made a name for themselves as group of "street artists" in the Englewood Park neighborhood. Never really more than a public nuisance at their worst, the Parkers were dragged into a gang war with the Slammers after tagging one of their buildings. The Parker Family quickly became just another violent street gang in order to survive.


Despite the urbanization of the district, there are still areas where the suburbs are still in play. Ridgewood Road is still mostly suburban though urbanization has been creeping in this area as well. Resdients of the area have generally resisted the urbanization, though. Instead, most of the urbanization has been done by crafty developers gobbling up real estate as it comes available. This has led to an interesting practice of secret home sales in the area. Sellers will often use a local real estate office that then attempts to arrange the sale without ever listing the property. Demand has been high enough to make the practice successful, and a few realtors have taken note and set up shop in the area.


The Brooklyn Heights neighborhood demonstrates the transition to the inner city rather well. Gone are the large fenced in backyards. Instead the houses are close enough to cause anyone with the slightest hint of claustrophobia to wince. Add in the fact that these houses can go for almost 500k and you can see why many have chosen to forego the idea of owning a house in this district. Still, Brooklyn Heights is a pretty nice neighborhood to live in.


Areas like Southcreek Center are fairly common in Brook Haven. These urban town homes provide many of the same luxuries as the homes in Brooklyn Heights, with the added benefit of reduced risk of the neighbors spying on you. Running for about 350k, they are a little cheaper due to the increased traffic noise. Southcreek Center is also famous for its shopping, as many of the buildings house specialty shops on the ground floor and the area itself is just across the street from one of Bella Vista's larger shopping districts.


The Westside Business Park is home to a wide variety of shops and offices. Many smaller companies call this area home preferring the cheaper real estate and high traffic volumes headed to and from the highway. The Business Park is home to two of Bella Vista's more iconic structures as well.


The Peckmen Building is one of the most famous governmental structures in the country. Serving as Bella Vista's city hall, the Peckmen Building was constructed in the intersection of Williams Ave and Hammond Road during the 1980's. The roundabout it occupies also serves as an entry point to the highway. Due to the traffic in the area the Peckmen buildings ground floor houses emergency services for auto accidents in the area.


The Marion Street Tower is a hotel with an interesting history. Originally built in 1975, the building has been the center of number of weird occurrences since its completion. It was shutdown in 1993 after 7 people went missing from the hotel. The authorities were never able to find the missing people, and new management bout the hotel. Since then it has been at the center of a number of investigations of criminal activities. Many suspect that the owner, who to this day remains anonymous, is actually a high level mob boss, but no evidence has ever been found to support this claim. Regardless, the hotel thrives as it is known for its welcoming staff and great views.


The highway access has also attracted a healthy number of factories. The Belton Road Industrial Corridor, or BRIC, has become a local technology and manufacturing hub. BRIC companies provide thousands of jobs to residents of Santa Bella, and millions in tax revenue to the city coffers. The BRIC has seen some changes recently with large amounts of the smokestack factories being replaced by cleaner high-tech assembly floors and warehouses. Still the BRIC is an influential force in city politics.

That's all for this week folks. Next time we will be looking at the downtown Santa Bella area. Thanks for reading.


Kings Ridge


urielgarcia-Thank you.

Benedict-Thank you.

Aaron Graham-Thanks. This city should be fun to develop.

UndercoverNinja12-Thanks. I would have to say that this stuff is some of my favorite content for much the same reasons.

To All-Thank you for voting in the poll. The Santa Bella map will be available on the STEX later this week. Also, thanks for making this one of the top journals this past week.

Kings Ridge


I developed Kings Ridge with basic idea that this was the northwest end of Bella Vista and thus where the highway would enter the city. As you can see from the last two region shots it took a couple of tries to get right. The challenging thing with this type of area is the interaction of the highway as it enters the city. I wanted something that made sense, but was compact and natural. This lead to one of the weirdest interchange ideas I have had. The interchange I came up with is essentially a loop running through an industrial park. It required a bypass approach to the highway, but I this also split the industrial park nicely from the residential part of the city.


Here we have the John C. Bryson Highway (desginated as I-23) entering the city. This highway serves as the main route between Bella Vista and Santa Bella. Traffic on this highway is largely dependent on the time of day as during rush hours it can be quite thick, while during low hours such as seen here traffic can be next to nonexistent.


I-23 has several exits in Bella Vista. The first is the Industrial Street Exit. This exit is part of more complex system of exits and entrances around the Ridgewood Research Park. Not surprisingly this exit is only lightly used as very few commuters find it useful.


The Ridgewood Research Park is home to several labs and high-tech companies. While it is relatively small, it is well-known for being the old stomping grounds of famous inventor John Bryson. When Bryson worked in the area, Ridgewood Research Park was owned by Bryson Industries. However, after his death the company folded and the labs were sold to third parties. These days the park is more or less a loose collection of labs for major companies.


The proximity of the highway has made the northern end of Mountainwood Road a minor shopping district. The so-called Ridgewood Center is really nothing more than a couple of shops on the edge of town. Of course, this hasn't stopped them from trying to promote themselves as being part of something far greater.


The busiest place in the district may be the Mountainwood Baseball Complex. These fields host little league games for most of western Bella Vista. On any given night there are between 4 to 12 games on these fields (1 to 3 per field), hundreds of amped up ten to twelve year olds, and as many as 5000 proud parents. Parking has become an issue, however, and the Bella Vista city council is looking at options to alleviate the issue.


Residents of Kings Ridge have relatively few worries. Unlike the areas to the south, the most dangerous thing that the average parent here has to worry about are pranks like TPing a neighbors tree. This is partially the result of the fact that Kings Ridge has one of the regions strongest neighborhood watch programs. The local sports programs also help reduce the crime problem among teens.


Ridgewood School serves this area well. The school itself is one of a very few K-12 schools left in the region. Academically it is a middle of the road school, but it remains desirable because the student violence/drug use incident rate is well below the national average. Ridgewood was recently rated as the safest school in Bella Vista, and it is almost always in the running. This is somewhat ironic as the school itself is housed in an remodeled early 1960s factory which was notorious for the number of accidents that occurred onsite.


Of course the real draw of the district is the beautiful scenery. The famous Kings Ridge lends its name to the district and is just one of the natural wonders in the Stone Ridge State Park. Here we are looking east from atop Stone Ridge.


Helicopter tours frequently flyover the park. Riders can capture shots like this one of the Whitehill Cliffs. These cliffs were extremely popular with climbers until the forestry service had to ask them to stop after falling rocks killed three climbers. Investigation revealed that the climbing gear that was used on the cliff was severely damaging the rock and had caused some to come loose. These days the cliffs are left alone.


The Valleman Basin is locate across Stone Ridge Mountain from Bella Vista. This area is some of densest forest in the region. It also houses the visitors center for the park, the helicopter tour center, and a campground.

That's all for this week. Feel free to comment or +1 this entry! Thank you!


Arrow Cliffs


slickbg56-Definitely seems like they should. Though at least with it being tropical climate having your house buried by snow isn't one of the things they have to worry about.

UndercoverNinja12-Yeah, mountainsides can be quite tricky. Absolutely need a good slope mod to make it work.

Alex_1210-Thank you. The trick with adding another airport is finding space for the takeoffs and landings without getting to close to downtown. It might be doable, but that's a project for down the road. Also as UndercoverNinja12 said most of that development is medium wealth. I do use an education booster to help my cities along, though.

UndercoverNinja12 x2-Not technically a double post. Yes those are the RD-6 textures from the NAM/NWM.

gman28-Thanks. I have to compliment madhatter here. He made some awesome buildings that fit in so well with Maxis set that it makes showcasing them easier.

DamienM23-I'll definitely consider it. See the poll on this update.

Arrow Cliffs-(Click images for full resolution)


Today we head north to the Arrow Cliffs district. Admittedly this is very similar to the Mountainwood district, though Arrow Cliffs is decidedly more residential. As you might notice in the region shot this tile connects both to the highway route to the north (Next week's feature) and the city center to the east. Arrow Cliffs was developed primarily because the tile to the east of Mountainwood is a literal blank canvas and I need to get some other features to define it.


The natural beauty of Arrowhead Valley is part of what makes this district so desirable. Local legend holds that this was the site of a major battle between tribes of natives centuries ago, however historians say that it was more likely a hunting ground than a battlefield. Either way tourists love coming here to hike and search for arrowheads in the forest.


Granite Hill is another distinguishing feature of the region, mostly because the ground near it is too hard to build on. Granite Hill is known for being popular with rock climbers, though there isn't actually direct access for them. This has led to quite a few trespassing complaints, though a couple of homeowners have turned it into a business.


Mountainwood Road serves as the main thoroughfare for this district. It again serves as divider with some higher density residence to the east, particularly along Westmont Avenue. Westmont Avenue is a major route to the city center and is a key connection to the highway as well. As a result a number of apartment complexes have sprung up at its western terminus at Mountainwood Road.


The area looks especially good at night. Despite the traffic, these apartments command rents from §900/month for a studio to upwards of §1500/month for two bedroom units. The Mountainview Tower is widely known for the picturesque views from its upper floors.


Of course some prefer a more suburban setting. Residence like the Mountainwood Estates look to cater to these folks. With a more park like setting a plenty of amenities these apartments are in high demand even if the views aren't quite as spectacular. Unfortunately growth in the region continues to push out these complexes in favor of higher capacity apartment blocks.


The northern portions of Mountainwood and most of Arrow Cliffs are in the Westmont High School distrct. Westmont High was built in the late seventies and has been well maintained by the City of Bella Vista. Westmont traditionally ranks as one of the cities highest achieving academic schools, though rivals will be quick to point out that they may be all brains and no brawn. While Westmont High has not had a sports team make the regional playoffs in the last decade, their academic teams have won numerous regional and even national championships.


Some detractors claim that Westmont High does so well academically because it doesn't have to serve the less fortunate citizens of Bella Vista. While home prices in the mid §400s certainly have restricted the type of citizen that can afford to live in the area, Westmont High claims it is the teachers that set set them apart. They also point out that the pretentiously named subdivisions they serve have seen an increasing drug problem.


Granite Hill Village has been hit particularly hard by this newest wave of drugs. This area has become so infected that Bella Vista recently raided a home where they found fourteen missing teenagers dead from overdosing on drugs. Ironically, the church's drug addiction rehab counselor's son was among those found in the house. Bella Vista PD have begun a regular patrol of this neighborhood hoping to find the source of the drugs.


The drug problem in Arrow Cliffs has gotten so bad that there are daily protests outside Herald Biotechnologies. Herald Biotech, one of the largest employers in the district, had been helping the Bella Vista PD with the drug problem until recently. No one knows why they stopped cooperating, but there is widespread speculation that one of their products is involved in the manufacture of this latest street drug. Herald Biotechnologies CEO Dave Lambstead has not been seen since the end of his companies cooperation with the police.


The recent drug problem has hurt local businesses as well. The Shops at Valley View, a business collective of local merchants, has seen a 20% drop in sales in the last year. In many cases, the store owners claim that visitors to their stores are down with first time customers dropping to an all-time low. Still the shop owners say they are not in danger of closing in the near future.













Blunder-Thanks for the advice. I'm not much of rural player and rarely use agriculture as a result. However, I will keep that in mind should I ever find a suitable area for agriculture.

Ace-Thanks. I try to let people know what I am using when it is featured.


Benedict-Thanks. I think you'll find this similar to my work on Iris.

Mountainwood-(Click on images for full resolution)


Starting a new region is always a challenge. Figuring out where to put that first "city" can be really taxing. It gets even more challenging when using a CAM based simulator. For all it does CAM makes starting a city far more difficult. I have actually modified my version of the CAM simulator to better fit my needs so be forewarned, this type of development with CAM may not be typical.

I finally settled on tile Np as my starting point. This tile is in the southeast corner of the region and backs up to the mountains on that peninsula. I based this area off of the edge of town neighborhoods I have lived in or near. The tile itself is home to about 20,000 sims and nothing really important regionally. It's just a typical suburb in that sense.

The name Mountainwood was chosen as it seemed like a good name for the primary road through the tile. You can see this road in the region shot above. Nothing particularly spectacular, but if you lived in the area this would be one of the roads you would have to know. A couple of east-west arterials end in this district anchoring the commercial and industrial zones.


Here we have the intersection of Mountainwood Road (running right to left) and Hopkins Drive. This area has spawned a nice office park.


A little to the north we have this intersection between Mountainwood and Center Point Avenue. This could be said to be the heart of the Mountainwood tile. It features a nice mix of shopping and office space. Not surprising as Center Point Avenue is going to be a major access route to the freeway in the neighboring tile.


West of Mountainwood Road is primarily residential neighborhoods like this one. Here we can see the influence of the mountain to the west (top) of the image. Many of these areas are built in a fused grid pattern.



Living this close to the mountain can be quite costly. Many of the houses in this region go for upwards of $400,000. Of course the views from the mountain are even more spectacular.


Businesses along Mountainwood do fairly well as they provide quick access to vital goods for these residents. A few strip malls have popped up along Mountainwood as a result.

So that's it for Mountainwood. Thanks for visiting.










The Plotting Begins

Welcome. After a long hiatus, I am returning to the world of Sim City 4. For those of you who don't know me, I am a long time player having played the franchise since the mid 90's. Sim City 4 is by far my favorite iteration of the game, which I have been playing for ten years now. Over the years my stlye has evolved from maximum population to perhaps a more realistic aesthetic.

This new journal will be a documentation of my construction of the Santa Bella region. The Santa Bella region is a reworked version of Maxisland/Timbuktu. The map has been run through a number of terrain alterations, including a couple of erosion cycles and more compression and expansion work than I can remember. The layout of the city tiles has also been reworked as I quadrupled the size of the map from 16x16 to 32x32. Here is the region as it appears now.


At this point is probably important to note some of the mods I use. The terrain is the LBT Yucatan Peninsula Terrain mod. The water is SMP Paradise Blue. The tree controller is LBT Yucatan. And, finally the rock is modified version of Pegasus' Limestone. One other mod I use, which I mention only because its effects are seen here is the Jagged Edges Mod. This accounts for some of the cliff faces.

When development starts I use a CAM based simulator. I use a custom NAM engine. I have a lot of content from Simtropolis and SC4D. If you see something that you are unfamiliar with please clearly indicate it and I will do my best to find out what it is.

Now a couple of planning pictures to give you an idea of where this is going. Here we have some grid designations for the tiles. I'll use these until I can come up with an appropriate name for the tile, and also for position reference.


And finally here is a rough plan of the major highways through the region.



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