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Developers get unanimous approval on giant master-planned community in East Valley

Apache Junction City Council unanimously approved the development of a master-planned community that will pave the way for 10,000 new homes.

On Oct. 5, Council approved the annexation of land, development agreements and community facilities districts of Superstition Vistas, a master-planned community to be developed by Arlington, Texas-based D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) and New York-based Brookfield Properties Development.

For many years, East Valley community leaders have been working together to find a way to develop this 275-square-mile region known as Superstition Vistas.

Then, last November, the state land department put out to bid 2,783 acres of that area, with the stipulation that the auction winner would be required to entitle another 5,300 acres of adjacent land owned by the state land department to pave the way for future development.

D.R. Horton and Brookfield won that bid, paying $245.5 million for the 2,783 acres and agreeing to entitle the 5,300 acres of state land. They also agreed to work with the city of Apache Junction to annex the entire 8,100 acres into the city, which also would pave the way for growth and economic development of the area.

With approvals in place, grading of the land will begin in early November, with an eye toward a grand opening sometime in the second or third quarter of 2023, Dea McDonald, senior vice president for Brookfield Properties Development, told the Business Journal.

In addition to the 10,940 homes that will be built on the 2,783 acres D.R. Horton and Brookfield bought, plans call for 443,400 square feet of non-residential development.

The other 5,307 acres still owned by the state has approvals for a master site plan that will include the development of future residential, commercial and industrial uses.

That parcel is bounded by Ray Road on the north, the State Route 24 alignment on the south, Meridian Drive on the west to the Central Arizona Project Canal on the east.

Patrick Brown, vice president of land acquisition for D.R. Horton made a presentation to Council on Oct. 4, the night before the big vote, noting that the entire Superstition Vistas area of 275 square miles is larger than Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe combined.

Controlling growth

When Council unanimously approved the development on Oct, 5, Apache Junction Mayor Chip Wilson said it was important to maintain control of the growth in the area.

“This is why, again, a planned community looks at the whole picture and comes up with alternatives that will help out,” he said Tuesday night. “That is something we have been working very hard on. This is something we look at for the entire area. We looked at it to be able to control it ourselves instead of having it wild like in San Tan (Valley) area.”

Vice Mayor Christa Rizza said she gets goosebumps just being a part of what’s to come, as a result of the visionaries ahead of the group that is now implementing this project.

“I do share the same sentiments with growth,” she said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s tough. When I moved out here, the whole reason we moved out here is because we wanted our children to grow up in a rural community. And we watched horses being ridden right down Apache Trail.”

It’s important that Apache Junction is able to retain its horse communities and large-lot communities, she said.

“So I get it,” she said. “And some of the comments made about growth, we have an opportunity. We can control it or we can have a neighboring community control it. It’s really best for us to have that local control ourselves.”

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