Monday, September 6, 2010

Homebuilding is set to take off in Gilbert

Even with home values still falling and foreclosure inventory rising, developers continue to see a silver lining in the Gilbert market and are proceeding with plans for hundreds of new homes over the next several months.

After four years of declines in the number of single-family permits issued, construction activity surged in 2009. This year's numbers are even better, and with a strong finish the town will likely see a second consecutive year of positive change.

Taylor Morrison sales manager Bob Thompson said the relatively strong activity "has definitely caught everybody's attention" in the housing industry. Taylor Morrison this month expects to begin selling lots in its Adora Trails community near Higley and Riggs roads.

Thompson said that completing the Santan Freeway portion of Loop 202 has helped Gilbert, a community with good schools and desirable neighborhoods, attract new construction.

"It's not this far-off suburb anymore," he said. "It's pretty much right in the middle of everything. The freeways have allowed it to surface on the map."

Several new communities could soon bring thousands of new homes and residents into Gilbert:

• Adora Trails, a 586-acre neighborhood, nestled at the foot of the Santan Mountains, will be developed in 17 phases over the next 12 years, according to a report submitted to the Gilbert Planning Commission.

Taylor Morrison is now putting the finishing touches on model homes and is planning a grand opening on Sept. 18. The initial phase includes 272 lots, and construction on the community clubhouse is expected to begin early next year, Thompson said.

• Six miles to the north, Blandford Homes wants to build more than 500 houses in the Cooley Station community near Recker and Williams Field roads.

The proposed Heritage at Cooley Station development would bring in about 1,500 residents and be the first parcel in the project's center to be built. The development could someday be home to 24,000 residents, a dense village core and commercial office space.

• At Recker and Elliot roads, just north of Cooley Station, developer Scott Morrison plans to build about 500 homes in Elliot Groves at Morrison Ranch.

Despite some residents' concerns over the loss of commercial land, the Town Council in August approved a zoning change to make way for the new residential development.

• In the Stratland Estates community near Higley and Germann roads, three homebuilders snatched up more than 200 lots and hope to inject new life into the once-beleaguered subdivision.

• The Planning Commission on Wednesday reviewed plans for another 79 homes on 26 acres near Greenfield and Chandler Heights roads.

A steady stream of residential-rezoning requests has come before the commission recently, and the Design Review Board has seen numerous requests for home-plan approvals, which is another indicator of developer interest in Gilbert.

A Maricopa Association of Governments report estimated there were about 74,000 homes in Gilbert in 2009, but the report suggests that number could grow to 92,000 in 2020 and 109,000 in 2030.

by Parker Leavitt The Arizona Republic Sept. 4, 2010 12:00 AM

Homebuilding is set to take off in Gilbert

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