The idyllic charm and feel of a small town are hard to replicate on a master-planned scale, but developers have tried for decades, with varying degrees of success.
Three master-planned communities in the Valley have reached back into the past and found a formula that has worked.
“We used past experience and a commitment to a new vision for community building inspired by the town building principles used in the country’s best small towns,” said Dan Kelly, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Verrado, one of those three communities. “Verrado is truly a small town with a wide range of ages and life stages.”
Verrado, in Buckeye, along with Eastmark in Mesa and Vistancia in Peoria are three of the most sought after master-planned communities in the country.
According to the Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO) list of top-selling master-planned communities of 2017, Eastmark ranked 6th with 919 houses sold, while Vistancia was 20th with 462 and Verrado 27th with 430. All three were ranked in the RCLCO top-20 in 2016 and Eastmark and Vistancia were 7th and 12th, respectively, on that list in 2015.
“Given our experience with other communities around the Valley, we have seen how to connect commercial, retail and education within the heart of the community and how it builds fabric and makes the lifestyle more dynamic,” said Dea McDonald, Eastmark’s Vice President and General Manager. “We want those uses integrated, so it lives like a town.”
Eastmark, Verrado and Vistancia have struck the right chord with buyers, despite being on the far reaches of the Valley. They’ve done this by checking off all of the boxes that turn a development into a community. These communities are big, but retain that small-town look and feel for each generation.
“One of the key benefits of living in a master planned community is that there is a diverse range of home styles and options to allow for multi-generational living and growth throughout a family’s lifetime,” said Mark Hammons, vice president and general manager of Vistancia. “It is common to see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all living in one of Vistancia’s three actively selling lifestyle communities.”
Total Acres: 3,200
Developer: D MB Associates in partnership with Brookfield Residential
Year development began: Land Purchased in 2006; June 2013 Eastmark’s first 11 neighborhoods opened
First homeowners moved in: September 2013
Homebuilders: Ashton Woods, David Weekley, Meritage Homes, Taylor Morrison, AV Homes (55 plus), Maracay Homes, Pinnacle West, William Ryan Homes, CalAtlantic Homes, Mattamy Homes, Shea Homes, Woodside Homes, Richmond American
Homes built to date: More than 1,800 (more than 2,600 sold)
Custom home lots available: No, but there are gated neighborhoods within the community
Total homes at build-out: 15,000 homes
Is there a 55-and-over neighborhood: Yes – Encore is planned for 900 homes upon completion.
Commercial potential: Up to 20-million square feet.
Community amenities: Two top-ranked charter schools (one is K-12, one K-8) with a new high school expected to open in 2019-20 academic year; Community Center, 4,000 sq. ft. Community Pool, 96 acre Eastmark Great Park, numerous neighborhood parks, miles of trails and a wide variety of resident-run clubs and activities.
Total Acres: 8,800
Developer: DMB Associates Inc.
Year development began: 2003, Retail sales in Jan. 2004
First homeowners moved in: June 2004
Home builders present: AV Homes, K Hovnanian Homes, Mattamy Homes, Shea Homes, CalAtlantic Homes, Lennar Homes, Meritage Homes, Taylor Morrison, David Weekley Homes, Maracay Homes, Pinnacle West, William Ryan Homes
Homes built to date: 3,652
Total homes at build-out: +/- 11,500
Are there custom home lots available: 289 custom lots made, five custom lots remaining in developers hands. 37 custom homes built to date
Is there a 55-and-over (or 50-over) neighborhood: Yes – Victory at Verrado
Commercial potential: 4,000,000 sq-ft allowable, 1,225,000 sq-ft sold or allocated to completed transactions; 171 acres sold for commercial purposes to date
Community amenities: Two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school serve the community. Verrado also features a signature Main Street which serves as the hub of the community with restaurants, shopping, community space and apartments and townhomes. Other features include a community center called Center on Main, Heritage Swim Park, Verrado Golf Club, 78 community parks, a dog park, 21 miles of paths and hiking trails and close proximity to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park and Skyline Regional Park.
Developer: Land Resources of Phoenix
Year development began: 2004 (Grand opening was 4/4/2004)
First homeowners moved in: July 4, 2004
Home builders present: Ashton Woods, David Weekley Homes, Meritage Homes, Shea Homes, Toll Brothers, William Ryan Homes, Richmond American Homes
Homes built to date: 6,141
Total homes at build-out: 10,500 (30,500 residents)
Custom home lots available: Yes and 6 remain
55-and-over neighborhood: Yes. Trilogy at Vistancia.
Commercial potential: Commercial Core at Vistancia currently has 320 acres
Community amenities: Vistancia has two K-8 schools inside the community, with plans for a third K-8 school as well as a high school. Vistancia residents can bike, rollerblade, run or walk the 3.5-mile Discovery Trail that connects the entire community. There is a 15,000 square foot recreational center called the Mountain Vista Club that includes indoor basketball gym, three swimming pools, four lighted tennis courts and other multipurpose space. The Foothills Center has a heated resort-style pool with six-lane lap area, children’s playground and outdoor activities area. Trilogy at Vistancia has an 18-hole golf course and Blackstone features a golf course, as well.