The Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
June 28, 2012
By Catherine Reagor
Builders are spending $50 million to buy the first home lots in Mesa’s Eastmark, the former location of the GM Proving Grounds. It’s the first major multiple-builder land purchase in a new metro Phoenix community in five years.
Houses on the 709 lots bought by seven builders will be for sale to customers early next year.
At the height of the housing boom in 2006, developer Scottsdale-based DMB paid $260 million for its 3,200 acres of the site, where GM raced Corvettes and tested other cars for decades. But, it was clear by the end of 2007 that the housing market was heading for a serious downturn.
The first round of builders at Eastmark — Maracay Homes, Mattamy Homes, TaylorMorrison, Woodside Homes, Trend Homes, Standard Pacific Homes and Meritage Homes Corp. — are buying lots from DMB just as the homebuilding market is starting to recover. Last month, single-family permits and new-home sales were more than double May 2011’s levels, according to the Phoenix Housing Market Letter.
“The commitment of these builders represents an unprecedented level of confidence in Arizona’s residential market backed by promising economic indicators,” said Dea McDonald, DMB’s Eastmark general manager. “We are seeing a resurgence in homebuilding activity in Arizona and in the East Valley.”
In Mesa alone, homebuilding permits are up 100 percent from last year. A growing number of homebuyers frustrated about being outbid on a shrinking number of short sales and foreclosures are opting for new homes.
The builders had to commit to buying lots in Eastmark two years ago, when the region’s housing market was showing no signs of a recovery.
“It was a tough deal to sell to our board back then, but now we all look smart and are trying to take credit for the foresight to commit to land in Eastmark,” said Charlie Enochs, TaylorMorrison president.