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Production Homebuilder Buys 2,800 Acres in East Valley in Frantic Bidding War

Production Homebuilder Buys 2,800 Acres in East Valley in Frantic Bidding War

By   – Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Production homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. will pay $245.5 million for 2,783 acres in the far East Valley as the winning bidder in Wednesday’s Arizona State Land Department auction.

With its deep pockets, Arlington, Texas-based D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI) won a bidding war for the parcel at the southeast corner of Elliott and Meridian roads, which is in Pinal County, near Apache Junction.

Bids opened at $68 million at the 1 p.m. auction and quickly jumped — sometimes $5 million at a time — to the winning bid of $245.5 million.

In the end, D.R. Horton outbid Scottsdale-based Shea Homes and two partnerships named Stone Hill Land Partners LLC and Superstition Vista 2783 LLC, according to the state land department’s bid list.

Jordan Rose, a land use attorney and founder of Scottsdale-based Rose Law Group, said the intense competition proves that the state land department made a wise business decision in letting the property go to market.

“A $245 million sale could not have come at a better time for funding Arizona education,” she said, adding that it was an enormous win for education and the Arizona State Land Department, as well as connectivity into Pinal County.

She said Pinal County will remain the fastest growing county in the state.

“The winning bidder will do a phenomenal job with the master plan,” said Rose, who has represented many developers in Pinal County over the past two decades.

D.R. Horton officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Keeping up with demand

RL Brown, founder of RL Brown Housing Reports, said D.R. Horton certainly is a qualified buyer and can be expected to proceed efficiently because of its familiarity with the market.

State trust land has become very important to homebuilders looking for land to continue to build homes to keep up with demand, he said.

“Obviously, this is a very significant event for the future path of development in the East Valley,” Brown said. “A successful auction result to a well-funded and motivated buyer will allow a continuation of the development of the East Valley toward the east and could have the impact of somewhat slowing the potential for development in the southern part of the East Valley/San Tan area — still with utilities challenges yet to be finally resolved.”

Separately, an Arizona State Land Department auction to sell 1,128 acres in north Phoenix originally set for Nov. 2 has been postponed until Dec. 9.

The land, which is part of a larger, 3,500 acre parcel, is the likely landing place for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.’s $12 billion plant, multiple sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed in October to the Business Journal. The rezoning of the 3,500 acres for employment uses was approved by Phoenix City Council on Oct. 21.

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