What will college admissions plea deal mean for massive City North development?

Above: Crown Realty & Development closed on 96.5 acres and acquired the “Master Developer” rights in North Phoenix’s Desert Ridge master-planned community. The property and rights had been the subject of active litigation and bankruptcy for a decade. Crown now plans to develop the land as a new urban core in Phoenix. (Photo by Bruce Andersen, AZ Big Media) Real Estate | 10 Apr |

An affiliate of Crown Realty & Development recently acquired a 96.5-acre core parcel in the coveted City North and Desert Ridge “Master Developer” rights in north Phoenix.  Recently a company executive, Robert Flaxman, was named in the college admissions investigation.  Flaxman’s plea agreement entered into with the U.S. Attorney was made public yesterday. Due to Flaxman’s early plea agreement and cooperation, the U.S. Attorney has recommended sentencing at the low end of the guidelines. Sentencing will not occur until later this year, at the earliest. 

While Flaxman’s involvement in the investigation has made national and state news, it does not affect the company’s ambitious plans to proceed to meet the pent up demand for real estate activity at City North, according to Rick Carpinelli, Senior Vice President of Property Acquisition & Residential Development.  Carpinelli has been with the company for almost 15 years, leading Arizona operations. 

“Since resolving the bankruptcy and litigation uncertainty this year, the response from major office, retail, multifamily and hotel developers has been extraordinary,” said Carpinelli. 

The company’s plans to commence major infrastructure investments this spring remain on track.  The company has already announced several national brokerage teams to assist with various aspects of the large mixed-use development.  Discussions are ongoing with prominent companies for new corporate headquarters and restaurants among others, Carpinelli said. 

He also said that while Mr. Flaxman’s involvement in the college admissions matter has drawn attention to the company, the company is replete with key personnel who will ensure uninterrupted operations.

“Let me be clear.  Robert has been integral to the company’s substantial success but we also have many others.  He has issued a statement on his matter and justice will now run its course.  Meanwhile, we will be hard at work delivering a terrific new mix of uses for our neighbors, the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona,” Carpinelli said. 

The Crown executive noted that with the large amount of state land in the Desert Ridge area, its role as “Master Developer” is strategically important to Arizona’s economic development and education initiatives. 

“Those who have held these rights in the past have not always been cooperative, collaborative partners with Phoenix or the state.  We are and will be,” Carpinelli said.  

With its increased activity in the Phoenix market, Carpinelli said the company would soon be announcing new hires, including at the senior level, to facilitate all of the activity expected over the years to come. It is also worth noting, said Carpinelli that the company has no debt on this project and has and will continue to finance its capital needs without debt.

“It’s one of the most significant pieces of undeveloped land in Arizona, if not the most.  We are giving this opportunity the attention and capital it deserves and won’t be distracted by recent news and events,” Carpinelli said. 

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