Post-recession, building at the edges is coming back

April 24, 2013

Five years ago the Preserve at Goldfield Ranch was an empty stretch of desert about six miles east of Fountain Hills. It still is. 

The county gave the developer five years to work out the details for the thousand-home master planned community.  After a foreclosure and the recession, the current owners are asking the county for another five years to work out a plan.

Patrick Vedra with Carwin Associates, who represents the current owners, said the move is simply a formal matter needed to keep from losing money invested in the property so far, and said it does not necessarily signal that they are making moves to start building any time soon.

Maricopa County planning director Debra Stark says the Preserve at Goldfield Ranch is far from shovel-ready. They’ll need to plan infrastructure and a host of studies before construction can begin.

"Our recommendation would be to review this again in five years, but if the market is on an uptick like we’re seeing I’m pretty confident that they’ll start to get that work done," said Stark.

Stark says she’s seeing a lot more interest from developers out on the edges of the Valley’s urban core -- but it’s not as frenzied as it was back before the recession hit. Stark says banks have eased up on lending and more people seem to want to live in the suburbs again. 

Way out in the northwest Valley, another master-planned community called Vistancia is building at a brisk pace. Vistancia general manager Mark Hammons says after some lean times builders there are selling homes at record levels.

"It’s like someone flipped the switch" Hammons said. "We went from really being in the doldrums to starting to see some real activity. We sold to builders in our community that hadn’t been here before."

Hammons says extending the Loop 303 helped homesales at Vistancia, which is in Peoria. And he says a lot of buyers like the lower density of master-planned communities in the exurbs.

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