Big Desert Ridge Project Gets Green Light in Phoenix

Article originally posted on Globe St. on February 7, 2019

Developer Crown Realty & Development has acquired the master developer rights for 96.5 acres of land in the Desert Ridge area of Phoenix. The land site had been the subject of more than a decade of litigation over land rights and bankruptcy. Now that the litigation has settled, Crown was able to purchase the property for $54 million, a steal considering a bankruptcy court had valued the land at $121 million. Crown plans to build a new urban core and master planned community on the site, known as City North.

“We see Desert Ridge as poised to become the second urban node for a maturing metropolitan Phoenix,” Robert Flaxman, CEO of Crown Realty & Development, tells GlobeSt.com. “With in-place entitlement for about 5 million square feet on about 100 acres, and a 12-story height limit, the village core at Desert Ridge has the most dense, tallest height development opportunity in all of the metro. In addition, as Master Developer for the entire 5,700-acre master plan community, we can guide development of another 2000 acres to include new employments centers with dynamic innovative office and mixed-use campus environments of the future.”

The property is located east of the Desert Ridge Market Place, a 1.2 million square foot shopping center near a high street. Flaxman says the area is akin to Los Angeles’ Century City market in the 1960s. “The infrastructure is in place to accommodate the demand for office, hotel, residential and restaurants with in place zoning,” he says. “The demographics is the best in the metro with executive housing to the north and east in Carefree and Scottsdale, work force housing to the south and west in Phoenix, two freeways intersecting at Desert Ridge, the biggest and newest hospital in the Southwest, expanding to twice current size, and new medical campus by ASU, and on and on.”

It has been planned since the early 2000s, but the Great Recession halted the project. While Flaxman couldn’t explain the litigation, in which the company was not involved, he said they saw the potential in the project and paid close attention. “The history is what it is. We stuck with it because this is the biggest opportunity in the market at a time when the market has never been better,” he explains.

Phoenix has seen phenomenal growth this cycle, but Flaxman says that this project will be a catalyst for similar growth in the northern part of Phoenix. “This will be the engine of growth for Phoenix,” he says. “This will shift the center of gravity north. Along with the 136 acres just taken down by Nationwide to the east, employment growth will outpace recent activity in Tempe and the South East valley here along the 101. As owner and Master Developer we now control or lead development along a 2 mile stretch of the 101 loop.”

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