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    Scottsdale Developer Taps First Three Homebuilders – 1,500 acres, San Tan Valley

    Scottsdale developer taps first three homebuilders for its 1,500-acre community in San Tan Valley

    El Dorado Holdings Inc. has tapped three homebuilders for the first phase of its 1,500-acre master-planned community in San Tan Valley.

    Called Bella Vista Farms, the new community off Hunt Highway and Bella Vista Farms Road in San Tan Valley will have 5,100 homes when built out.

    The Scottsdale-based real estate developer is beginning its first phase, which will include 560 lots on the first 200 acres, said Mike Ingram, chairman and CEO of El Dorado Holdings.

    Scottsdale-based Meritage Homes Corp. (NYSE: MTH), Miami-based Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), and Georgia-based Ashton Woods Homes have been selected to develop the first phase of the project.

    Ingram said he will invest about $125 million on the infrastructure for the first phase of the project. He expects the project to be divided into at least 10 phases.

    Ingram said he bought the first parcel in 2012 and then another in 2016 to total 1,500 aces.

    San Tan Valley is southeast of Chandler and Queen Creek, in an unincorporated area of Pinal County.

    “That whole area is in high demand,” Ingram said. “It had been held up for the last two or three years because of the utility issue there between Johnson Utilities and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Now that the corporation commission and Johnson Utilities seem to be in the process of settling those issues, we’re now moving forward.”

    The Arizona Corporation Commission has approved the sale of Johnson Utilities to Epcor USA and is going through the process of any potential appeals, said Chris Grogan, a partner with El Dorado Holdings.

    The resolution of the Johnson Utilities issue was perfectly timed to allow the San Tan area to grow with what has become the housing market in a decade, said Jordan Rose, founder and zoning attorney with Rose Law Group.

    “The only thing preventing this Pinal County area from becoming the fastest growing housing market in the state was this problem with Johnson Utilities,” she said. “Now that the utilities are resolved, look for homebuilders to flock to San Tan.”

    Fred Hermann, president of the Arizona market for Meritage, said it’s an excellent location. He said Meritage bought 186 lots.

    “We’re going after an affordable price point,” he said.

    Plans call for starting in the high $200,000s for homes that will range between 1,300 and 2,350 square feet on 45-foot wide lots. Its Reserve Series will be on 65-foot wide lots that will offer attached RV garages for homes that will range between 1,500 and 2,500 square feet and start in the low $300,000s.

    He said this is a good time for El Dorado Holdings to begin development of Bella Vista Farms.

    “We all sold a lot more homes than what we anticipated, so the new communities coming up are not going to be able to be quite as prevalent as what they had been in the past,” Hermann said. “This is just an excellent opportunity for us builders to all work together in this new kind of master plan they put together.”

    Jeff Gunderson, senior vice president of land acquisition and development for Lennar, said Lennar will offer 207 homes ranging between 1,400 and 2,700 square feet priced somewhere between the mid $200,000s to the high $300,000s.

    “Lennar is excited to be building in another El Dorado master-planned community,” Gunderson said. “We very much look forward to opening our community down here and we also look forward to building in the next El Dorado master plan.”

    It’s a good time for bringing new lots to the Valley, Grogan said.

    “We’re excited to get it off the ground and bring to this area, much needed lot inventory,” he said.

    Ingram said developers and homebuilders can’t build enough homes fast enough to meet consumer demand.

    “The biggest holdup right now is labor,” he said. “We could go a lot faster and the builders could go a lot faster. Demand is there today. The biggest hold-back for any of these projects is the labor supply.”

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