Sunday, November 28, 2010

Safari Drive condo sales resume with new marketing effort

Safari Drive, a luxury condominium complex along the Arizona Canal north of Camelback Road, is back on track after a long, recession-dictated dormancy.

Last week, sales resumed on the 4.8-acre mid-rise development near the northeastern corner of Camelback and Scottsdale roads. The seven-building complex was completed in 2007, but after 15 units were sold, sales were halted when the economy went south.

In October 2009, ST Residential acquired all assets of Corus Bank, and now owns and manages Safari Drive. ST Residential is a consortium of private equity groups that include investors Starwood Capital, TPG Capital, WLR LeFrak and Perry Capital.

ST Residential hired Geoffrey H. Edmunds & Associates to relaunch and market Safari Drive, and Geoffrey H. Edmunds Realty, a sister company, will handle all sales.

All units in the complex have been completed. Safari Drive is on the former site of the Safari Hotel and Resort.

"There's seven buildings and 89 units, with 15 previously sold," said Geoffrey Edmunds, company president. "There's 74 to sell and we sold two last week. The market has really been going down for the past six months, so it's continued to deteriorate. But there are sales for unique product, so where we're going to compete is with the Waterfront, Optima or another project like ours."

Unit prices start at about $370,000 with three units priced around $1 million. The majority of units are 1,200 to 2,100 square feet.

"We're giving (buyers) real high-end product at a competitive price for today in a unique location, and we believe there's a market in 2011 for this product," Edmunds said.

ST Residential and Edmunds' goal is to have Safari Drive sold out by the end of 2012.

"We're talking about a two-year sell-off period and we believe we can achieve that if the market remains stable or improves a little bit," Edmunds said. "I think that we're going to find that 2011 will be a little bit better than 2010."

A second, smaller phase is being planned that would be built in front of the project closer to Scottsdale Road.

"At this time, assuming the market is there in 2012 . . . then there would be a second phase," Edmunds said. "We're going to get Phase II kind of in design phases starting in January."

Mike Leipart, ST Residential's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said Safari Drive now is on solid financial footing.

"It's a beautiful property in a great location and prospective buyers should take great comfort in the financial stability of ST Residential," he said. "In fact, we know of no other company besides ST that offers the combination of financial stability with the highest standards of design aesthetic, quality and proven brand building capabilities"

In the meantime, ST Residential remains opposed to Gray Development Group's proposal to build a luxury apartment complex on acreage west and southwest of Safari Drive. Gray's Blue Sky complex would include five buildings with a maximum building height of 133 feet and 867 apartments.

ST Residential filed a legal protest with the city against Gray's proposal, which would force a supermajority City Council vote of 6-1 for approval. ST Residential hasn't withdrawn that protest.

Edmunds couldn't comment on Gray's proposal and its impact on Safari Drive's future. Leipart wasn't available to comment on that issue.

by Edward Gately The Arizona Republic Nov. 26, 2010 07:19 AM

Safari Drive condo sales resume with new marketing effort

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