Monday, August 27, 2007

Centerpoint Taking Shape

Last weekend my wife and I spent some time out in Tempe. We looked around Tempe Marketplace and took in a movie at the new Harkins theatre. Quite a few shops are open and many more are moving in. This area will be a great resource for Tempe residences and I can't wait to see it when it's done.

After the show we had a late lunch at Monte's and asked the staff about the historic restaurant. According to the people I spoke with there will be some renovation and expansion of the original structure but none of the history or the artifacts will be removed. The history, the service and the food will always make Monti's a great destination for visitors and locals alike.

From there we took a driving tour around Mill Ave and checked up on the Centerpoint construction site. According to Lisa Greg of Avenue Communities the first tower has reached it's peak and the crane will be coming down, construction on tower two is moving fast and the project appears to be on schedule. I have attended one guided building tours in the past and learned a lot about how the project will come together. Lisa mentioned that some of the condos are in drywall stage and better show how the homes will look when they are done. Contact WeKnowUrban directly if you would like more information on Centerpoint Condominiums or would like to arrange a tour of the building and construction site, or if you would like a personal tour of the Tempe area in general.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Palmaire Update

Over the past few months I have been fortunate to be part of a sales team at Palmaire Condominiums. Palmaire is a quaint community located near the Biltmore area in Phoenix. This is a great urban community, priced right, and has great finishes.

I lived in New York City for over thirty years, so trust me when i tell you that I know urban. Palmaire offers many great restaurants within walking distance of the community. There are stores like Best Buy, CVS, Old Navy, and many more right around the corner. There is a park across the street where one can go for a morning run or just go for a walk with their dog. This is urban life after all, where everything is conveniently close by.

At Palmaire one can find a 946 square foot home for $199,000. This is a bargain when compared to other communities in the area. The Biltmore Square has a 907 square foot home for $243,000. Patio 71 is starting at 239,000 for a 900 square foot home. That is $40,000 more for less space than we offer at Palmaire. Coming from New York City I am use to small overpriced homes, but I left New York for a reason.

The finishes at Palmaire are outstanding. These finishes include bamboo floors, butcher block counters, plush carpeting in the bedrooms, tile in the bathrooms, european cabinets, and every home is pre-wired for surround sound.

Palmaire is a great community in a great area. Palmaire is the community for you if you are looking for an urban home, priced right, in the right location.

Angel Fernandez

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

CityNorth to create hip downtown feel

John Klutznick does not like to use the word "exclusive," but his company's new development in northeast Phoenix can hardly be expected to be anything but.

CityNorth, as the new development is called, is beginning to be built on 144 acres north of Loop 101 and west of 56th Street. It will adjoin Desert Ridge Marketplace. Klutznick says the development will bring a "downtown" vibe to north Phoenix, with walkable streets looking something like vibrant downtown cores should look like. He likens the ultimate idea to Oak Street in Chicago or Newberry Street in Boston.

Newberry Street refers to itself as Boston's Rodeo Drive - the street of exclusive shops in Beverly Hills.

Chicago's Oak Street, on the north side, also features high level stores like Kate Spade, Yves St. Laurent, Barneys New York and Lucky Brand Jeans.

The big difference between those developments and CityNorth is that the Phoenix project will be built, in phases, from the ground up.

It will feature shops, restaurants, hotels, department stores - even 1,500 residential units made up of condos, apartments and town homes.

A group of retail tenants, besides Nordstrom department store, which already has been identified, will be announced sometime next month, Klutznick said.

The first phase of the CityNorth project, a street of three- and four-story buildings with retail below, offices and apartments above, is expected to be open by fall 2008. Phase 1, the so-called High Street District, will feature almost 300,000 square feet each of office and retail, along with 250 apartments/condos.

Phase 2, featuring retail and mixed uses, will go south along 54th Street to a main plaza and boulevard.

It will feature Nordstrom, one of five department stores anticipated for the site. Phase 2 should be ready by fall 2009.

Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
May. 5, 2007 12:00 AM

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Las Palomas, Rocky Point, Mexico

Tanya and I just got back from three nights at Las Palomas Resort/Condominiums in Rocky Point, Mexico. We have been regular visitors there (every two to three months) for the last fourteen months now. We love it. We love it so much in fact that we are in escrow on a two bedroom two bath unit on the seventh floor of the last building of the second phase that should deliver November 07 or so. We paid about $450,000 for approximately 1,800 feet or about $250/foot. It has a phenominal floor plan, fantastic finishes, and has wonderful views of the town, the beach, and the ocean. I've had some friends tell me that that's outrageously high for Mexican real estate while others have rushed to buy one for themselves.

Frankly, the numbers make a lot of sense to me and with everything going on down there I don't see how we could possibly lose. There's a property management company that will rent your home out for you when you're not using it. Their cut is 40% (a bit steep in my opinion) but they take care of everything. Condos comparable to what we bought rent for $255 week night, $330 weekends and $460 on holidays. Right now the occupancy rate has been running about 30% (basically weekends only). Nothing to brag about but they've only been open for a little over a year.

If we can rent our place out 48 weekends of the year (we need some time off too you know) the numbers look like this:

41 x 2 (Fri & Sat) x $330 (non-holidays) = $27,060 PLUS 7 x 2 x $460 (holidays) = $6,440 EQUALS $33,500 MINUS $13,400 (management fees) FOR A TOTAL OF $20,100 or about 4.5% cash on cash return. OK, a 4.5% annual return doesn't curl my toes but I believe that the following things are very likely to happen: 1) occupancy can easily double and thereby double our return 2) rumor has it that the management company actually hopes to lower their fee to 35% once everything's up and running thereby increasing our before tax return an additional .83% 3) even at 60% occupancy we still have over 100 days a year that we get to use the home. Fortunately, we can take week days off from work which improves our profit 4) most importantly, I believe that these will appreciate quite well over time.

Bottom line, we love that we can drive to our vacation/second home in just a touch over 3.5 hours and enjoy the heck out of the great food, beautiful beach, wonderful people, and strong drinks :-) and still make a few bucks off the place when we're not there, with absolutely no hassle.

Feel free to call me to chat about this place. I love talking about it. W

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Questions About Mosaic At University and Ash

My wife and I dropped by the "Grand Opening" event for Mosaic last week. It was a nice enough event with all the usual stuff; valet parking, great little catered appetizers, live string instrumentals etc. But the event as a whole sure didn't make sense to me. After all, they're supposedly selling a project going up in the heart of Tempe and yet the event was held at 1st Street and McKinley, just north of DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. What gives? I question the comittment of developers who "launch" from sales centers located fifteen miles from the site. Smells like they might be doing the ground work with the hope that they can flip the project for a quick profit. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just trying to figure the whole thing out.

What I do know is that they're looking to build a 21 story tower of flats, townhomes, condominiums, and penthouses on University just west of Mill Ave. Great location!

Sales prices start at approximately $780/square foot. Super high prices!

We weren't wowed by the finishes displayed at the sales office. Sure MOST of them were nice but nothing that everyone else isn't already offering. In fact one of the kitchens there sported cabinets that I would expect to find in Grandma's home; booooooorrrrrring. I think that to be competitive in today's market especially in the urban/loft market niche, new builds have to be exciting.....especially when asking almost $800 per foot!!!!

I'd love to see it built, and I'll certainly take any of my clients interested in Tempe / Mill Avenue there to get their take on the project but I'd feel a whole heck of a lot better about it if: a) Center Pointe was actually even close to being sold out b) the prices started closer to the $600/foot range and c) the building offered anything unique. We'll see. . . . . . . .

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

News 2/22/07

You have probably already heard this but just in case you haven't........

Construction at Chateau on Central has halted due to NO MONEY. A year an a half ago we wondered how they could possibly break ground with only six units sold and we now see that....they shouldn't have!

Also, the surface parking lot immediately to the west of Orpheum Lofts, currently used by Orpheum residents has sold (or is about to sell) to a developer who wants to build a tower there (unrelated to Orpheum). At one time, the buyers/residents at Orpheum had been told that a tower would be built on the site by the same folks who developed Orpheum and that when that was done additional parking would be available to the original Orpheum home owners. That promise/hope just got shot to hell.

In addition to the surface parking, residents park in a neighboring office building garage (the HOA negotiated a lease). How much do you want to bet that the lease amount goes way up now that Orpheum's hopes of having parking built are dashed. Remember that the HOA fees jumped from an original projection of approx $.40/sq ft (when they were first selling) to a current price of about $.55/sq ft. In comparison the fees at Crystal Point at 10th Street and Osborn is about $.38/sq ft.

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Friday, February 16, 2007


Traffic AND contracts are up so far in 2007. That may be obvious to everyone in real estate in general but not entirely true for the sub market of "urban"; that niche is split. We have written six contracts for urban properties so far in February; not huge but certainly not bad. These numbers put us among the top in the market niche. Of these six only one is a high rise, the rest are architecturally interesting "urban" style condos closer to the ground.

I love high rise and in fact live in a high rise. I have very high expectations for the product niche over the long run but I am concerned about it over the short term; two to three years. I believe that 2007 may present wonderful opportunities for those who want to own and live in high rise with the understanding that they may not see great (or any) appreciation for the short term.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Century Plaza Update

My wife and I picked out our finishes at Century Plaza Update today. As much as I absolutely hate picking out carpet, cabinets, etc. I have to say it was a very pleasant experience. Martha, the Interior Designer, is talented, NOT pushy, and very helpful. I was remarkably pleased with the final price too; only $15,000 and that included upgraded slab granite in the kitchen and bathroom, a great tile in all areas but the bedroom and closet, upgraded closet cabinets, upgraded lighting, stainless appliances and more! We're really excited to take possession which is expected to be October 2007. I still think that Century Plaza is one of the more make sense buildings in town AND I've put my money where my mouth is. W

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Citro Camelback

According to the MLS, Citro Camelback is a 288 unit 15 acre modern redevelopment of 6 city blocks in Old Town Scottsdale, 1/2 mile from Scottsdale Fashion Square. When compared to similar projects in the area, the community offers great value, with a private residential elevator (standard), oversized private attached 2 car garage, private rooftop terrace, semi-custom floor plan, 4.5+ acres of urban parks within the neighborhood, 2 community pools, and 2 fitness centers.

The public report is expected May 2007. The development is NEW CONSTRUCTION, not a conversion, with demolition to begin the summer of this year. Reservations for phase 1 started Dec 18 and half of the units have already been reserved.

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Hayden Ferry HOA

Hayden Ferry (Edgewater, Bridgeview, etc...) just raised their HOA to about 55 cents per square foot. I don't understand this. Crystal Point, with only 63 units has fees of approximately 38 cents per square foot. Why does a larger community (currently about 60 but soon to have another 100 and ultimately a total of almost 400) with fewer amenities than Crystal Point, that also has the added benefit of sharing a portion of their common area with surrounding commercial buildings, need to charge so much? I represented several buyers at Hayden Ferry last year and at the time I was very confident that management would be able to keep the HOA down under 40 cents a foot. Ideas???

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Things ARE looking....up?

At the tail end of 2005 I predicted a gloomy outlook for high rise sales in 2006; turns out I was right. Since approximately summer of 2006 I have predicted a very bleak outlook for high rises in the Valley for the next several years. Although I believed that real estate in general would recover nicely beginning January 2007, I firmly believed that we would experience a glut in vertical living that would be felt for several years.

So far, it appears that I'm wrong. Buyers have been calling our office like crazy looking to buy a hip and cool high rise property. It's certainly too early to know for sure how 2007 will turn out but so far I've never been so happy to be mistaken!!!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Tempe Update

We're getting closer to seeing something vertical at the corner of Rural and Apache. 100 units at approximately 350+ per square foot with starting prices in the high $200k's. Contact us for more information.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tempe Urban Loft Projects

The area south of Tempe Town Lake and west of Mill Ave is blossoming with some really cool urban villages and loft projects.

Millstone by Barton Communities was one of the first to break ground in early 2006 and they are starting to deliver to the owners. The project offers three story lofts with two car attached garages a beautiful community. Walking distance to Mill Ave and the FLASH route made this project, and the others to follow, attractive to parents of students of ASU as well as the business professionals coming to new jobs in the area. The project is technically sold out but there is a possibility that 3-4 homes may be coming back to the builder. I also know a man who may be putting his on the market due to a job transfer. More on that later.

The Brownstones at Tempe is coming along nicely. Phase I is nearly sold out, and Phase II is about to be released. These two and three story urban lofts are amazing. With a total of 13 layouts to choose from there truly is something for everyone. There are currently 5 spec homes decked out with upgrades and 6 additional homes remaining for sale in Phase I. Spec homes could be delivered in as little as 60 days. This is a great opportunity to get in early at the best pricing. The photo below shows the second floor kitchen in one of the models. These lofts are beautiful, stylish and in a great locations. As the landscape of Tempe takes shape with the Centerpoint and Hayden Ferry projects, these smaller loft projects provide a great opportunity for professionals and students who want access to all that the area has to offer. All told there are seven new construction sites in the area. I've got the inside story on all of the up coming loft and urban village projects coming to Downtown Tempe. Contact WeKnowUrban and I'll be happy to arrange personal tours of all these exciting developments.

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Palmaire Update 1/25/07

Palmaire Condominiums is really coming along. It truly looks like I will have models to show in about two weeks. I am offering private tours now for those of you who want to check them out now. Please know that we will be doing a mass blizt to the public right before we open and we expect turn out to be strong. If you want a chance to get in before everyone else; blog, call, or e-mail me. For more general info visit W

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Christina Vanoverbeke recently reported in the Tribune that some East Valley residents are turning to lofts and high rises instead of the sprawl that has dominated the Valley for decades. My sales agents and I specialize in finding homes for just such buyers. I sold a Hayden Ferry condo to a great couple who currently lives in Fountain Hills. He's an airline pilot and she works at ASU. They love the idea of trading in the long commute for spending time together in and around Tempe. Another couple relocating from the mid-west will be calling Hayden Ferry home in about twelve months. She too works for ASU and they want to live close to work and the wonderful community that Mill Avenue has cultivated. My wife and I live in a high rise condo near mid-town Phoenix and we love being minutes from Durants, Fez, Zest, Barrio Cafe and other fantastic restaurants. I'm telling you when that light rail is completed life is going to pop along that route!!!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

More In Scottsdale

A lender called me yesterday to pick my brain. His company is considering funding the construction portion of a new project called Reflections to be built across the canal from Safari Drive and just down Camelback Road from Scottsdale Waterfront. The developer had told the lender that Optima Camelview was 68% sold out and that prices in the area were 650+/ square foot. Prices of Reflections would start at about $800,000 or $450/foot. The lender was also told that 18 of the 100 units were already under contract. I told him to be careful due to all the condominiums that are scheduled for delivery in 2007 in the immediate area (approximately 600); I think the recent Republic article exagerates the truth. Of those 600, I believe that at least 150-200 will go back on the market as re-sales due to the very high investor participation in those projects. I love urban communities but I want to see success stories; not failures. Unless there is adequate time to absorb the inventory already under construction I worry that new projects will cause trouble.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What To Do With The Light Rail

A buddy of mine who lives in Crystal Point at 10th Street and Osborn recently asked me what the light rail will mean to him. A very valid question.

I told him that for him (like most of Phoenix) the light rail will do nothing for his commute (arguably THE primary reason for building the system) but will instead compliment his social life. As the Arizona Republic article states, $2 Billion dollars are being spent along the route. This will bring restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, clothing boutiques, bars, clubs and more. I imagine that my friend and his friends will drive the mile and a half from Crystal Point to the rail station at Central and Osborn, catch a train, and use it to go out and socialize/party. After a day or night of too much fun they'll return to the Osborn station and do something extremely difficult to do in Phoenix today: HAIL A CAB. I have to think that cabbies will hang out at rail stations hoping to pick up fares. He'll pick up his car the next morning and avoid any chance of getting a DUI.

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Light Rail Money

With so much money being spent along the light rail route people truly have a reason to go urban vs. suburban. The light rail route finally gives Phoenix a boundary and difinition. Other cities have rivers, lakes, oceans or mountains that contain growth. For decades we have been building out instead of up. Legislators have tried to limit sprawl with laws, regulations, and plans. Finally, we have something along which to invest and increase density.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Palmaire Progress

Palmaire Condominiums at 1630 E. Georgia (just north of Camelback) is really coming along. Getting the building permits from the city took forever but it's finally making progress. I met with the owner yesterday and got further insight into the finishes that will be offered, including:

Either light or medium colored (I don't have the color names yet) bamboo floors in the living, dining, kitchen and hallways.

Ikea cabinets in the kitchen and baths. White will be the standard color but they'll offer two upgrade colors. Again, I don't know the name of the colors but I'll describe them as a medium maple and the other a dark chocolate (I was a sixteen crayon box kid so forgive me for not being better with colors :-) ).

The owner is still up in the air with the kitchen counter tops. Looks like the standard will be either a European style laminate and/or a light colored butcher block. He is looking into offering some nice slab granite as well.

Bathrooms will be mostly white tile with cool accent colors.

We expect to have finished models to show in about three weeks. I do have the Public Report so we can write contracts today. For those people who are nervous about signing a contract before they can see an example of the finishes, we're including "contingency" language in the contracts allowing the Buyer to cancel and receive a refund on the earnest money. If you haven't driven by this community yet you really should. It's fantastic. Yes, I'm biased so blog me me if you think I'm full of crap. For even more info go to W

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Phoenix High Rise and Lofts in 2007

It appears that, contrary to what the AZ Republic says, we have weathered the real estate duldrums of 2006 here in the fair city of Phoenix. All statistical indicators show that although sales volume was down compared to 2005 (volume was similar to 2003 which wasn't a bad year) sales prices still creeped up. This was not true across the board but in general.

However, I do see trouble on the horizon for the newly built and under construction high rise condos. With as much inventory on the market, or about to hit the market, one has to expect downward pressure on prices. The key will be whether or not the investors in these new buildings (by my estimates 30-45% of the total buyers) have the staying power to rent their homes out for a couple years rather than slashing prices to get out. In general, that is what happened at Orpheum Lofts and Optima Biltmore; the investors rented out their properties on the cheap just to cover some of their monthly outlay. The expectation is that within a year or two more they will be able to sell for a profit.

This strategy will work for the better buildings and will fail miserably for the others. Frankly, most investors will need help getting through the next couple years from someone who knows what the heck they are doing. The days of buying and flipping for big bucks are over; at least for now in Phoenix. Stay tuned for new tools coming to wku to help all you urban owners in 2007.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Trouble With Elevation Chandler?

At least three recent articles, one appearing in the East Valley Tribune and two in the Arizona Republic hint or suggest that there may be trouble brewing at the mixed use high rise residential condo project, Elevation Chandler. If this is the case it would be quite a shame but I can't say that I'm surprised. Months ago I got a very nasty phone call from a man who identified himself as being the selling broker for the project insisting that I stop sharing info about Elevation on my website. Talk about short sighted! The guy should have embraced the realtor community, particularly those of us who specialize in the product niche. If in fact there are problems with the project then I'll have to believe that some of them may be "sales" related. Again if so, I'm sorry that I wasn't encouraged to get behind the project and promote it, especially at my own expense.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm out of here

Heading out to Vegas for the holiday and more. Here's to everyone having a safe and fantabulistic 4th! W

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Great New Jobs Means More Money For Real Estate

Technology Reigns in Tempe

Jul. 1, 2006 12:00 AM

Nine out of 10 Arizonans think developments in science and technology are critical to the creation of high-paying jobs.

That's according to a new survey by Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, which also found that a majority of Arizonans are willing to pay higher taxes to support research.

If that's the case, that most people equate science and technology with quality job creation, they should be keeping tabs on the researchers and employers choosing Tempe.

One of the state's most promising research facilities, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, is in Tempe. It has attracted renowned scientists and created several hundred jobs for lab technicians and last year was the Valley's largest generator of biomedical research funding.

Researchers there are working with folks in private industry to speed innovations into the marketplace, everything from pollution-eating molecules to sensors that help diabetics manage their disease.

ASU's Flexible Display Center has a similar mission. The center, which is developing rugged, flexible computer screens, has partnered with the Army and industry heavyweights such as Honeywell, Corning and General Dynamics to speed the invention's completion.

ASU's Tempe campus has plenty of other programs that are attractive to high-paying employers. Google, the Internet search giant that offers legendary employee perks, recently chose to open its temporary office in Tempe, partially so it could be close to innovators at the university.

According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, nearly 11,000 people work in "high technology" jobs in Tempe.

But the potential for growth, even in office parks outside Tempe, could be exponential in the years to come if, say, someone at the Biodesign Institute finds an effective cure for Alzheimer's disease. A spinoff (or spinoffs) would need to hire workers to manufacture the drug.

Of course, job-creating innovations won't come overnight. And it's anyone's guess whether the big ones, such as a cure for Alzheimer's, will ever come.

It's hard to say if most Arizonans understand that. The Morrison Institute survey didn't ask how long people thought it would take for the investment in science and technology research to pay off or what fits the bill as a "high-paying job."

Nevertheless, if there truly is a correlation between science and job creation, it should be easiest to find it in Tempe.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why High Rise Developers Sell To Investors

My wife and I were recently discussing the state of the real estate market.....My wife and I were recently discussing the state of the real estate market, particularly the differences between single family detached (SFD) “new builds” and high rise condo new builds.

We see that in many of the high rise condo buildings being delivered today as many as fifty percent of the units were originally sold to investors. We know this because of the very large number of units that go back onto the market (resale) as soon as the buyer closes the purchase with the developer.

This observation led us to wonder why the high rise developers allowed this to happen when builders of SFD homes made it EXTREMELY difficult for investors to buy in their communities; and even then as many as thirty percent of those houses were purchased by investors.

I believe that in both cases; the high rise developers selling to investors and the SFD developers not selling to investors do so because it benefits them.

In the case of the SFD developer, because the delivery time is only nine months or so, they can not afford to sell too many units to investors. In a typical SFD subdivision the developer needs at least two years to sell, build, and deliver the units before moving on to the next subdivision. During that time, new potential buyers will be “shopping” the subdivision, assessing whether or not they want to buy there, while folks who bought nine months earlier are moving into the subdivision.

Now, can you imagine how sales would absolutely drop off if nine months earlier the developer had sold fifty percent of the units to investors and those investors turned around and put the homes on the market as soon as they were built? How many potential buyers would feel comfortable buying into a community in which EVERY OTHER HOME HAS A “FOR SALE” SIGN IN FRONT OF IT? After all, we know from basic economic principals that an unusually high supply of homes will lead to downward pressure on prices? Who wants to buy into a subdivision if they think prices are going down and not up?

So, the SFD developer restricts sales to investors in order to avoid this problem and to protect their own interests and future sales.

On the other hand, the high rise condo developer has a very different sales and delivery cycle. With a high rise condo development, ALL units are delivered within weeks or months of each other. The developer doesn’t face the possibility of their future potential buyers recognizing that too many units have been sold to investors. By the time we get an inkling of an idea of how many units sold to investors the buyers are already financially committed to the purchase.

So, in this case, the developer can sell to whomever the heck he wants and doesn’t risk the possibility of future sales in that project being compromised; great for him but lousy for his customers.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another Example of Journalist Real Estate Bashing

Well we found yet more holes in Catherine Reagor's totally irresponsible June 4th AZ Republic Article.....Our local paper's real estate "journalist" failed to do even basic research before making her exagerated claims. In her article she stated that "four condos in the Optima Biltmore Tower on Phoenix's posh corner of 24th Street and Camelback Road are going on the block [auction] this month. The high-rise homes cost [emphasis added] $949,000 last year. The opening bid for one of the condos now is $475,000." She also stated in the article that "the minimum bids are half of what the homes originally cost."

Man, more horrible real estate news. Is it true that some poor soul is facing financial disaster, possibly foreclosure, and has resorted to auctioning his home for less than half the price he paid for it??!! Nope; Reagor got it all wrong.

I'm no journalist, in fact I've never even taken a journalism class, but I do have some common sense. Without any fancy schmancy "press ID" we got the facts from Sheldon Good and Associates, the auction company referenced in Reagor's article.

A simple telephone call revealed that contrary to Reagor's claim, the condo referenced in her article did NOT originally cost $949,000. Instead, it was purchased by an investor for approximately $500,000. The investor then put it back on the market for $960,000.

When after several months he could not find a buyer to pay his ridiculously inflated price he decided to try another angle and hired Sheldon Good & Associates to “auction” it. He set the minimum bid at $475,000 but also instructed Sheldon Good to take the home off the market if the auction does not garner a certain predetermined price. Bright guy; too bad the journalist did not bother doing even basic investigation of her “facts”.

One of the greatest things about America is our free press. Unfortunately, although we citizens are told not to believe everything we read we can’t help but put trust in our traditional journalist media. In the case of Catherine Reagor and her above referenced article any trust would be totally misplaced.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The June 7, 2006, Property World article ( about Michael Peloquin and his investment opportunities left me wondering. If his developments Metro Lofts, McKinley Lofts, Compound Lofts and City Lofts are such a wonderful opportunity to make eight figure profits, how come he hasn't broken ground on a single one of them? Seems to me he missed the most recent Phoenix boom and is looking for someone to help him cut his losses. I hope I'm wrong and that he'll actually build the products, but I'll believe it when I see it.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

The AZ Republic Over Reacts Again

In the June 4th AZ Republic article, "High-end condos' low opening bids signal glut" the author cites.....In the June 4th AZ Republic article, "High-end condos' low opening bids signal glut" the author cites the auctioning of condo units at two different communities as "a sure sign that too many high-end condominiums are going up in metropolitan Phoenix."

This is a totally reckless and poorly researched example of journalism. There's no way the "journalist" bothered to visit either The Vale Lofts or Optima Biltmore to determine the underlying problems with those communities before writing the article.

I sell loft and urban style properties for a living. I live, eat, and breath the life style. Yes, we had a ton of investors sweep through the valley over the last couple years and our market has slowed as a result. However, I hardly believe that the problems we're experiencing in those specific communities signal a glut in general.

The architecturally interesting and colorful Vale Lofts has been slow to sell because it's inferior to the competition. The developer stuck it on a crummy lot, apparently cut corners with poor construction and offered ho-hum finishes. It has "urban" design but has a far from urban location. It's not walking distance or even a casual bike ride from anything. Why would someone buy there when they can buy at Orchid House Lofts or Portland Place Lofts or Artisan Lofts on Central or the much older Hayden Place or any one of the many wonderful "in-fill" loft projects throughout the Valley? The Vale would not have sold well to begin with without the benefit of an unusually strong real estate market over the last couple of years. It's now suffering because the competition is so much better. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, INFERIOR PRODUCTS SELL SLOWER THAN SUPERIOR PRODUCTS. This my friends is the same problem with Optima Biltmore.

Optima Biltmore is located in a fantastic area. Unfortunately, the community in general was poorly designed and the amenities are marginal. Even if we had not had a fantastic real estate market it would have sold because of the area. BUT IT WOULD HAVE SOLD MUCH SLOWER AND PRICES WOULD HAVE GONE UP MUCH SLOWER. The investors who bought up as much as 60% of the building bought with the hope of making hundreds of thousands of dollars profit. Well, that ain't going to happen, at least not any time soon. It's no surprise to me that this inferior product is selling slowly but again I don't think that it's fair to say that this signals a general glut in the Phoenix condo market.

I'm not saying that we aren't facing a potential glut in higher end lofts and high rises but I do ask that The Arizona Republic PLEASE dig a little deeper before making gross generalizations supported with unjustified opinion.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Portland Place Lofts Update

The sales office says that they are about a year out on delivering the 6th floor and sounds like they have decided to go ahead with the resort style pool and rec center in front of building 2. The model is gorgeous but if you were to recreate it you'd pay $135,000 in upgrades.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Phoenix Infill Loft Project Tour Reviewed - 4/20/06

The and Loft tour yesterday.....The and Loft tour yesterday was a great success. We had approximately 28 attendees ranging from architecture students to seasoned agents to folks looking to buy a personal residence. We spent about an hour and a half viewing and discussing such loft projects as BeadleView, Palm Lane Lofts, the proposed site of Evergreen 9, Willetta 9, Portland 38, Roosevelt 11, Artisan Village, 414 McKinley, 215 McKinley, Fontenelle House, PRD 845 and more.

We had a fairly active group and we discussed cost per foot and tried to compare the pros and cons of some of the projects to one another, we discussed any potential impact, either positive or negative, that the rising inventory of new high rises might have on the infill loft market, what's driving the infill loft market, who the typical buyer might be in comparison to a buyer for a high rise or mid rise condo etc.

Our next tour is scheduled for May 20th and will cover primarily high rises and lofts in the Camelback Corridor and Biltmore area. We will however also introduce the group to lower cost options as well. Hope to see you there! W

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tempe Loft Down the Drain? - 4/13/06

Sewage problems could sideline redevelopment on Apache Boulevard.....Old sewer pipes clog condo plans
Apache Blvd. lines worry developers

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Sewage problems could sideline redevelopment on Apache Boulevard, warn some real estate agents involved in trying to build a 10-story condominium complex there.

Plans for the Tempe Union Station Lofts project stalled in March after a series of setbacks including the sewage issue.

But the live-work condo complex may still happen, according to the real estate agent brokering the deal. It could be the first major revitalization investment to come to the area as a result of light rail.

The developers are still trying to build on three adjacent plots of land containing mobile home parks and other low-income housing, said Diane Minkner, the agent who assembled the land, and the owner of Integrity Fine Properties in Paradise Valley. Architects are in the midst of redrawing their plans with lower buildings, Minkner said.

Yet height issues aside, both sides say for the project to be successful, one of the main hurdles it will have to overcome is sewer capacity. To serve more people than are already there, major changes need to be made to the about 50-year-old sewer lines.

It's an expensive problem the developers say they shouldn't be responsible for. They also say it may spell trouble for not just them, but any developer who wants to invest in the area.

"The developers are already spending millions of dollars. The city should contribute their portion," Minkner said.

"It's a little give and take. After all, we're helping the city clean up Apache Boulevard in a big way. Three trailer parks is a big thing."

City leaders say they, too, have invested a lot. Light rail and waterline upgrades in the area are already costing Tempe millions.

And community members and city officials have spent years planning a transportation overlay district, designed to make Apache Boulevard a safe, pedestrian-friendly place to live and do business.

The city says developers shoulder the burden of items such as needed sewer capacity.

"It's common practice in the utility industry and every city in the Valley," said Don Hawkes, Tempe's water utilities manager. "New development means if they need new infrastructure, it's at their cost."

Hawkes cited The Vale, a modern condo/business complex at University and Hardy Drives, and Arizona State University buildings at Mill Avenue and University Drive as examples of recent developments that have had to pay for new sewer lines.

Sewer capacity has been raised as an issue elsewhere.On Apache Boulevard, the sewer lines are smaller than other commercial areas, Hawkes said.

That's because when the lines were put in, the area was only single-story residential or commercial.

Sewer lines are typically designed to last at least 50 years, according to Hawkes, but can last up to 100 years.

The city's oldest working sewer lines were built in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Thoseinvolved in trying to build the Tempe Union Station Lofts warn the current sewer situation on the boulevard spells trouble.

"The city has got this great plan, but it won't become a reality unless they replace and improve the sewer line for sewer capacity," said Realtor Sara Lucas, who represents the business owners trying to sell their land for the Union Lofts deal.

"If not, it will always be an ongoing problem for every single development deal and all their vision and all their work and all the years are literally down the drain."

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Is A Loft? - 4/11/06

With lofts being the hot new market niche in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, I get asked all the time "what is a loft?"With lofts being the hot new market niche in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, I get asked all the time "what is a loft?" I have to explain that Arizona's version of a loft is very different than what real estate agents in other parts of the country might think.

Back East, "real" lofts are residential condominiums created from the conversion of old warehouse buildings. Those old warehouses had very high ceilings (to accommodate industrial machinery or literally tons of storage), huge windows (to allow as much natural light as possible), industrial type finishes such as exposed concrete floors, exposed steel, exposed brick walls, exposed electrical conduit and heating and air conditioning ducts etc...

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe are so much younger than cities like Chicago, New York and Detroit that we simply don't have the large old warehouses common in those other cities. So, out West, we don't have many residential lofts converted from industrial/warehouse space. Instead, we have loft "styled" condos; new buildings built with a lot of the same features found in the lofts out East (lots of brick, unfinished or stained concrete floors, floor to ceiling windows, etc.). Unfortunately, because we have few if any "true" lofts it leaves the door wide open for developers and real estate agents to use the word "loft" however they want. Because the word is so popular today it seems that almost everything is now called a loft.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

44 Monroe Update As Of 4/07/06

I went to the Ground Breaking Ceremony for 44 Monroe last night; a typcal event with cocktail tables draped in white, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and live music. Although the event was nothing to write about I am VERY happy to see that they're finally breaking ground. I was definitely concerned that it might never happen. General rule for 44 Monroe is that units will start at $465 per foot for a 1400 square foot 2bd/2ba with two parking spaces on the 10th floor. The same floor plan runs all the way to the 32nd floor but the price goes up to $683 per foot at that level. At the high end of the prices you can get a penthouse with almost 4300 square feet on the top floor (34th) for $822 per foot ($3.5M before upgrades). Actually the prices aren't bad overall especially when you consider that owners are trying to get $425 to $1000 per foot for units at Optima Biltmore and SunCor is asking $450ish to about $800 per foot at Hayden Ferry.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Portland Place Lofts, Phoenix - Big News On 4/6/06

Portland Place was just sold to Crescent Resources, a subsidiary of Duke Energy. According to information I found on the web Duke Energy had net income of $1.82 billion in 2005. According to the Crescent Resources website it is "a real estate development and land management company" established in 1969 with land, commercial developments and residential communities, primarily in North Carolina and Florida but also in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Arizona. The Arizona holdings consist of two golf course clubs/residential communities in Payson; The Rim Golf Club and Chaparral Pines.

I have always loved the architecture, floor plans, location, amenities, etc of Portland Place. However, I have been concerned about the financial wherewithal of the developer. With the sale to a financially huge company like Crescent Resources, those concerns have been put to rest. Now, the only think I'm worried about is that the new owner might raise prices or do something else to damage the good will that the former sales team has built. I'll wait and see.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Second Phase of Kierland Commons Lofts Goes On Sale, 4/06/06 Update

The Business Journal of Phoenix - 10:44 AM MST Tuesday
by Chris Casacchia

Sales for second phase of the Plaza Lofts at Kierland Commons started last week, with prices ranging from the $800,000s to $1.85 million on standard floor plans.

Construction on the 54-unit development will begin in May with completion slated for fall 2007.

Phase II features one- to two-bedroom/study floor plans ranging in size from 1,100 to 2,800 square feet. Five penthouse suites range from 3,200 to 3,900 square feet and feature custom build outs. Prices range from $2.8 million to $3.15 million.

"The people who have expressed interest in Phase II of The Plaza Lofts range from empty-nesters to young professionals within the primary and secondary home sectors," said sales director Trudy Hammond of Signature Properties.

Built above the three-story parking garage on the north side of Kierland Commons, the latest phase will encompass levels four through nine of the nine-story tower and offer mountain, golf course and city views.

Plaza Lofts amenities include a private residential parking garage, reception lobby with card-access entry, a community room with a full-service kitchen, heated pool and whirlpool, and an outdoor recreation area with a fire pit, gas barbecue and seating.

Phase II will add another lobby, a professional-grade fitness facility, another community room complete with kitchen, and additional outdoor space with ramadas, barbecues, fire pits and a water feature.

The first 30 units of The Plaza Lofts sold out prior to the start of construction in February 2004, with the first residents moving in during the second quarter of 2005.

"All of the original Phase I contracts closed," said Daniel W. "Buzz" Gosnell, president of Woodbine Southwest. "This disappointed a substantial list of prospective buyers, which only reinforced our plans to expand the residential component of Kierland Commons."

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

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Loft and High Rise Tour Update, 4/06/05

Twenty eight people have already expressed interest in attending our April 20th, Loft and High Rise Tour. However, only those people who have sent in their checks have a reserved seat. Everyone seems to wait 'til the last minute so as of today their are a lot of seats available. If you're interested be sure to go to the tour page at, register and send in your check. At this point it does look like we'll sell out. W

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Palmaire Condos Phoenix, April 5, 2006

We just heard news of an eighteen unit condo project being done near 16th Street and Missouri. The guy doing the project has vision, good taste and apparently enough money or financing to do the project right (he's the same guy doing George Lofts just around the corner). Palmaire Condos will have 850 square foot, one bedroom and one bath units; 1125 square foot, two bedroom and two bath units; and 1350 square foot, three bedroom and two bath units. Prices have not been released but I have been assured that they will be very competitive for the area. Amenities and finishes will be along the lines of the Bon Vie Condos and the Valley Ho Hotel/Condos, both in central Scottsdale. Units will be completely gutted and redone with new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, appliances, bamboo flooring, new bathrooms, lighting etc... Again, the styling should be very very cool. The developer hopes to have one or two of the models done by late May so we can feature the project during our May 18th Loft and High Rise Tour. I'm hoping that he'll be ready to begin sales by then or at least June. We'll see.....

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Downtown Scottsdale is crazy for condos - Tribune Article

By Jonathan Athens, Tribune

April 2, 2006

New York. Chicago. Add Scottsdale to that list when you think about upscale urban living. Downtown Scottsdale’s condominium market is booming, with construction cranes and the steel skeletons of what will soon become luxury dwellings looming against the skyline.

Thousands of people will make downtown their new neighborhood, helping turn the area into a 24/7 way of life for a new breed of Scottsdale residents who want to escape suburban sprawl.

Longtime Valley resident Anne Davison said she decided to buy a new condo in downtown Scottsdale because she wants to live in a sophisticated urban community.

“I plan to live there forever. I don’t ever plan to go back to living in the suburbs,” Davison said.

A forty-something real estate agent by profession, Davison sold 10 condo units in the Optima Camelview Village and then decided to buy one for herself. Her daughter, Elizabeth, also has bought a unit there.

Investors over the past three years have poured more than $1.6 billion into every segment of the downtown area — retail, employment, cultural, hotel and residential, according to a January report by the city on downtown developments.

Of the 2,600 new, planned or built condo units, 2,100 are situated in downtown and those units are selling at average prices of more than $500,000, city records show. The condominiums at Optima, considered the largest downtown condo development, range from $400,000 to $5 million.

The 750-unit village in March sold its 500th unit, with the first residents expected by early summer, an Optima news release states.

The people choosing to move downtown fall into what sociologists have dubbed the “bookends generation,” those who are at both ends of the work force spectrum.

At one end are older Americans not yet ready to retire; at the other are upand-coming, techno-savvy young Americans.

They want to live “a 24-hour lifestyle,” said John Little Jr., executive director of The Downtown Group, the city’s liaison to downtown businesses.

These new urbanites, Little said, “are people that have been living in gated communities who are excited about a lifestyle that is more engaging than what is afforded in a gated community.”

The wave of new downtown residents “is going to spark a rethinking of what downtown is and how it works,” Little said.

“Literally, we are creating new downtown neighborhoods,” he said.

The Davisons, Scottsdale City Councilman Wayne Ecton and his wife, Martha, gallery owner Debra O’Hara, and college student Ryan Martin reflect the new faces of those new downtown neighborhoods.

For Wayne and Martha Ecton, moving from a house in outlying Scottsdale to their $620,000 condo at Main Street Plaza this August is a major lifestyle change they know well. The Ectons say they are looking for the convenience of being able to walk to shops and restaurants.

“This is heresy for a Scottsdale person to say, but I like streetlights,” said Martha Ecton, 67.

The Main Street Plaza is a mix of residential and retail units located at the corner of Marshall Way, Main Street and Goldwater Boulevard.

The first phase — 33 condos ranging between $500,000 and $1.75 million — is sold and residents are expected to move in this summer. The developer is planning to build another 54 residences — a mix of 10 townhouses, 40 condos and four penthouses ranging in price from $400,000 to $3.25 million.

Despite those prices, Ryan Martin, 21, said it’s false to think only the wealthy can afford to live downtown. The philosophy major at Arizona State University bought a $150,000 townhome near Indian School and Miller roads about a year ago to be closer to restaurants, art shows and sports events.

“What I like best — it’s located right in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale,” he said. “There’s always something going on.”

Martin said he “lives comfortably,” earning an average $40,000 a year at his job as a bellman at the Hotel Valley Ho, another upscale downtown development.

Valley Ho was a playground for some of the Hollywood set in the 1950s. Today’s version is a remodeled resort with 194 boutique hotel rooms and 37 condo units, all of which are tentatively sold.

Real estate agent Mark Himsl said the condos went for between $608,000 and $2 million, and that seven of them are penthouses listed at $1.2 million to $1.6 million. He said he expects the first closing will take place in mid-July and the last will be on Sept. 1.

The most expensive or “Wow!” units are priced high because of the features they offer, Himsl said.

For example, a pair of two-story lofts at the Valley Ho feature 20-foot glass walls.

One amenity that Deborah O’Hara loves about her new condo is that it’s close to her art gallery — right downstairs.

About six years ago, she and her late husband, Calvin Puckett, came up with the vision for a live-and-work contemporary gallery, knowing the downtown area was taking off. Puckett died the year before the Calvin Charles Gallery on Marshall Way officially opened in 2003.

It was an expensive venture — she wouldn’t reveal the cost — but “the commute is a lot easier,” she said.

The downtown condo growth in Scottsdale is indicative of a national trend, and could possibly be spurred by traffic congestion, said Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at ASU.

“People want to return to a more hip way of living,” Butler said. “It’s an urban thing.”

The real question, he said, “is how deep is the market?”

Condominiums comprise roughly 8 percent of the housing market in general, he said.

“Are we going to go to 12 percent? That’s a big unknown right now,” Butler said, adding he doesn’t expect the condo market to grow by more than 1 percent.

Contact Jonathan Athens by telephone at (480) 970-2342.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hayden Ferry Bridgeview, April 2, 2006

The developer of Hayden Ferry Edgewater (phase 1) and Bridgeview (phase 2) are throwing an invitation only party in May to celebrate the completion and delivery of Edgewater units. Guests will pretty much be limited to people who purchased an Edgewater or Bridgeview unit and those people who are "for real" prospective buyers for Bridgeview. The developer hopes that once prospective buyers get to see an actual unit then they'll want to sign a contract. The developer is also hoping that once buyers can see, touch and feel what they're offering then they'll be able to raise prices. In a normal market I'm sure that strategy would pay off. We'll see if it works in a market that has slowed down.

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Portland Place, two more things

I just learned that the developer of Portland Place is toying with the idea of NOT building a pool on the roof of the second phase but instead might build a "resort" pool at ground level overlooking the Japanese Friendship garden. This saves him some money and in my opinion greatly improves the common area and allows for a bigger pool with easier access. Also, it looks like they're finally getting numbers from their Design Center so they'll be able to give final purchase prices to everyone who has signed contracts.

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Third Avenue Lofts Finally Get Real With Prices

Avenue Communities has finally gotten real and lowered the prices of their last five or six units at Third Avenue Lofts. Things should start to move now. If you got the money ($3M) and want to live Downtown Scottsdale then you should check out their furnished penthouse...awesome. I don't remember the square footage but I think they're somewhere around $800 a foot, which is huge, but I bet you could grind them down.

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Safari Drive

Safari Drive has begun taking reservations. The builder already let friends and family reserve 20% of the units but now the public can get in. Prices start at about $600 a foot so they're not cheap but they are right in the heart of Scottsdale. I personally still prefer Portland Place and Hayden Ferry Bridgeview but if you gotta have Scottsdale then Safari Drive might be the way to go. The styling of the finishes are definitely geared for a younger audience, kinda retro like Valley Ho or James Hotel (which by the way recently sold) but with a European flavor.

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Portland Place Is Going Up

Can't tell for sure but it looks like not only the garage but also the first and maybe even second floor of the units are underway (concrete and steel). I had been concerned that this project might not get built (what with things slowing down and all) but now that construction has begun my mind is at ease. They're still quoting starting prices at $350ish a foot which I think is a no brainer. FYI, there's a one bedroom that just came available for under $400,000 and has views of the Japanese Garden.

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Safari Drive rising at old hotel site

Peter Corbett
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 31, 2006 12:00 AM

SCOTTSDALE - It once was one of Scottsdale's swankiest spots, but for eight years the Safari Resort site downtown has been dormant, with its towering palm trees the only reminders of its past.

Now, a crane towers over the palms, and developers are hoping to bring some of the Safari's swing back with lofts, town homes, shops and restaurants.

The hotel was razed but the five-story Safari Drive project will take its place on a pie-shaped, nearly 5-acre property.

More than 200 residences in eight buildings are for sale, priced from $600,000 to $2.2 million.

With Safari Drive, Vanguard City Home and the Wolff Co. have designed an urban neighborhood with modern architecture, high ceilings, lots of glass, large decks and live/work lofts, said principal development partner Chris Camberlango.

"This is a current version of modern, downtown desert living," he said.

The $90 million Safari Drive project is a late entry into the $1.4 billion redevelopment boom downtown, with thousands of mid-rise condominiums, hotels, offices and retail filling the once low-scale downtown.

At least a half-dozen tower cranes are in a full swing these days within a mile of Safari Drive.

Local housing analysts question whether there is enough demand for all the vertical condo projects in Scottsdale and the Valley, but Camberlango and others are confident there is a market for their homes.

"We think there are a lot more than a thousand people who want to live in downtown Scottsdale," he said.

Still plenty of buyers

Realtor Laura Rightenburg of Phoenician Properties Realty agrees.

"I think there will be plenty of buyers out there for this product," she said of Safari Drive.

Rightenburg said she found two local buyers for Safari Drive who want to move from the edge of town to be closer to work and downtown's activities.

"This is really the beginning of high-rise living in Phoenix," she said. "I really think that this is what this town has been crying for a long time."

Safari Drive will do well, Rightenburg said, because its architecture is unique and the interiors are well finished without expensive upgrades.

Vanguard has experience building similar urban projects in San Francisco, Camberlango noted.

He described the buildings as having a finished, modern design - not an industrial look - with ground stone, weathered steel and some stucco.

Some of the lofts, townhomes and flats feature indoor-outdoor fireplaces that can be enjoyed from inside or on the deck.

Near mall, Waterfront

The desert-landscaped property, with three pools and other water features, will be built between Scottsdale Road and the Arizona Canal. The waterway will serve as a landscaped, linear park connecting Safari Drive to the Scottsdale Waterfront, southwest of Camelback and Scottsdale roads, and to Scottsdale Fashion Square, west of Camelback Road.

Although the Safari Resort was razed about eight years ago, Camberlango said the Safari Drive design is an updated version that pays homage to architect Al Beadle, who designed the hotel.

"We're huge fans of Al Beadle," said Camberlango, 38, who grew up in the Valley.

Reportedly Beadle was ready for the Safari to be torn down after so many renovations had compromised his design.

The Safari and Hotel Valley Ho both opened in 1956, ushering in a new era of hospitality to Scottsdale. A restored Valley Ho recently opened with a modern condo tower added.

New era of living

Now, Safari Drive is on the road to bringing in a new era of modern downtown living for Scottsdale.

The name is meant to evoke the idea of an amazing place or neighborhood, such as Rodeo Drive or Ocean Drive, Camberlango said.

Residents should start to move into Safari Drive starting in the first quarter of 2007.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Canadian companies plan 40-story condos downtown

The Business Journal of Phoenix - March 10, 2006
by Mike Padgett

In a major metropolitan region where about 30 percent of condominium buildings never get off the drawing boards, two Canadian companies are proposing the granddaddy of all condo projects just a few blocks north of downtown Phoenix.

The two-phase Copper Pointe Condominiums proposal has three 40-story buildings, one at the southeast corner of Fillmore Street and Third Avenue, and two others northwest of Third Avenue and Van Buren Street.

The proposal is the work of Pointe of View Developments of Calgary, Alberta, and Mentor Properties of Toronto, Ontario.

Despite the number of condo projects that never see the light of day, Pointe of View Vice President David MacKenzie and Mentor Properties co-founder Cal DeSouza said their proposal is real, not a market test.

Stand next to the developers' sign on the Fillmore and Third property, and it's easy to see that, if built, the three towers would alter the downtown skyline. They would rival Chase Tower at Van Buren Street and Central Avenue as the tallest buildings in the state.

The key word in this new scenario is "if," because the developers plan to ask the city of Phoenix for some form of financial help.

The companies purchased the property in late 2005. They plan to demolish the buildings on the east side of Third Avenue, starting in late March.

MacKenzie said he isn't concerned about the growing number of condominium proposals in central and downtown Phoenix, many of which he and others said won't be built. His confidence is based on his company's achievements -- Pointe of View has several multifamily developments completed and under construction in western Canada. It also is a partner in the proposed Cave Creek Resort & Casitas north of Phoenix, and it is starting a 41-story condo building in downtown San Diego.

Pointe of View has other projects lining up in San Diego, Orange County, Calif., and Inverness, Colo., a Denver suburb.

MacKenzie's partner in the downtown Phoenix proposal is Mentor Properties, owned by brothers Cal and Frank DeSouza, who have been converting Valley apartments into condos since 1991.

High-rise skeptics
Phoenix officials, as skeptical as anyone and whose files are filled with condo proposals that never got off the ground, said the Copper Pointe proposal appears genuine.

MacKenzie said he's heard the critics of Copper Pointe, and he isn't surprised.

"I know people have said, 'Here's another guy downtown,'" MacKenzie said, patiently brushing off the skepticism. "We hear that all the time. But we have a track record, and people will see that. And once they see that we're going to be demolishing, I think people will begin to see that we're real."

MacKenzie said there is a caveat: He and his partners will ask Phoenix to help pay for the development.

"I know the city doesn't have any money to do anything, but you don't have to have money," MacKenzie said. "They (the city) can make concessions in other ways, and that's what we're looking for."

Those concessions could be in the form of tax deferments or off-site improvements, such as street upgrades or utility access.

Although final designs and price ranges are not yet available, MacKenzie's tentative construction numbers of about $400 a square foot translate into more than $250,000 for a 660-square-foot one-bedroom condo.

The prices will be aimed at workers in central and downtown Phoenix who want to live near their jobs, instead of spending part of their time and income for commuting.

Project looks Legitimate
The Copper Pointe proposal would surround O'Neil Printing's facilities at 366 N. Second Ave., but O'Neil's General Manager Tony Narducci said the company -- which has been at that site since the 1950s -- isn't concerned. He said condo proposals today have a better chance of becoming reality because of the downtown redevelopment projects.

"I would be surprised if it didn't happen," Narducci said. "The timing (for condos) is much better than it ever has been."

Downtown officials use the word "pretenders" in referring to developers who circulate eye-catching designs for high-rise condo buildings, take names of prospective buyers but then later decide they can't get the idea off the drawing board. At this time, downtown officials said the Copper Pointe proposal is ambitious, but they don't consider it a pretender.

"The good news is, they are a real developer and they are doing some other things in San Diego," said John Chan, interim director of the Downtown Development Office.

"It's early in the process, so we'll have to see how their marketing goes," said Downtown Phoenix Partnership President and Chief Executive Brian Kearney. "I don't put it in the 'pretenders' category."

MacKenzie and Pointe of View President and CEO Randy Klapstein visited Phoenix officials in late 2005 to promote their high-rise proposal.

"You can't ignore guys who are actually building things around the West," said Phoenix Community Alliance President Donald Keuth. "These guys have built stuff.

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Phoenix High Rise Buying - Demystified

By Will Daly

Our website gets over 4,000 unique visits per month from people looking for more information on “urban” properties in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe and beyond. Of these visitors about 300 call or e-mail me looking for additional information on lofts and high rise condos (defined as ten floors or greater). In general these people are overwhelmed with the number of properties currently available for sale or advertised as “breaking ground” for new construction in the near future. They spend hours on the web researching their options but mostly reading a bunch of hype. Finally, they’ll call or e-mail me to get the real story. Here’s what I typically tell them.

For the most part, if you want high rise your first decision is whether you prefer an older building or a newer one. Older units typically sell for no more than $350 per foot while the post 2000 era buildings START at $450 per foot and go way up. There are six buildings which fit into this category. They are: Executive Towers, Landmark Towers, Crystal Point, Embassy High Rise Condos, Regency House High Rise and Phoenix Towers. If the price or style of older buildings sounds like your speed then you are geographically limited to the Central corridor, starting at approximately Camelback Road and then south to about Roosevelt. For your dollar you will get thirty to forty year old common areas (although a couple of the buildings have had recent facelifts), SOMETIMES antiquated air conditioning systems (master chiller systems vs. individual heat pumps), SOMETIMES common laundry facilities vs. individual laundry hookups, and SOMETIMES only one parking space vs. two or more. NOTE: THE exception to all this is Crystal Point, built in 1990, which has all the modern amenities plus THE BEST VIEWS IN TOWN. Dollar for dollar I’ll put this building up against anything in the valley, new or old. Once you figure this out you just have to narrow down which building you like the most and then wait to find the unit that is just right for you. In most buildings you’ll have a choice between completely renovated units (for a higher price) or a lower priced unit which needs work.

With newer high rise buildings you will ultimately have more choices. However, today there are only three newer high rise buildings in the entire Valley which are completed and ready for occupancy. They are: Esplanade Place, Optima Biltmore and Orpheum Lofts. Everything else is either under construction or in the dream/planning stage. Buildings which are currently under construction include: 2211 Camelback, Optima Camelview, Portales Place, Scottsdale Waterfront, Edgewater at Hayden Ferry (phase 1) and Bridgeview at Hayden Ferry (phase 2). I have intentionally omitted a couple buildings which have construction fencing around the property but very little happening at the sites. Again, keep in mind that prices in these newer buildings start in the low $400 per square foot range so a relatively small 1,000 square foot home will be $400,000 and up.

I think you’ll agree that if you are truly interested in enjoying high rise living in the Valley that the choices are not over whelming. Once you cut through all the hype you can see that there are only a handful of projects that might work for you. At that point you can really get focused and hunt for that perfect home.

Copyright © 2006 Will Daly. All Rights Reserved.

Will Daly, a Realtor with RE/MAX Excalibur in Phoenix and owner of the marketing labels and combines years of experience, a thorough understanding of current real estate markets, and cutting edge technology to provide his clients the best advice for proven results. He specializes in Loft and High Rise Development/Sales and Condo Conversions. You may reach him directly at (480) 510-8755 or by visiting his blog at

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Developers, politicians clamor to jump on infill wave

The Business Journal of Phoenix - March 24, 2006
by Pete Bolton

The next time you find yourself at an industry event, and in need of some flashy words to throw around during a lull in conversation, why not try these three on for size:

  • Greenfields: Developable land on the fringe. Home of urban sprawl.
  • Brownfields: Abandoned, idle or underused industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination.
  • Grayfields: Vacant or underdeveloped properties that are ripe for redevelopment. Also known as old buildings that need to move on or infill sites.

It's this last point -- infill development -- that seems to be on the minds of everyone these days from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon with his Opportunity Corridor to developers and even some ordinary folks not involved in the development business at all.

Why? Because we've spent the past several decades pushing retail and residential development to the outer limits of our Valley and now we are paying the price in the form of longer commutes and increased traffic congestion -- both negatively affecting our quality of life.

Although the transportation system is doing well compared to 10 years ago, the improvements haven't been enough to keep pace with the 160,000 or so people moving to the metro area each year.

Rising land prices in places that used to be considered dirt cheap are driving developers back to the heart of the city.

Now, rather than incur the expense of laying a network of infrastructure in a relatively unpopulated area and waiting for people to show up, developers are taking a long, hard look at the aging Class C and even Class B commercial properties that populate the cores of our cities, and figuring out new ways to develop the underlying land to its highest and best use.

Nobody knows for sure how much of this infill property, in terms of number of acres, exists.

Is it a vacant lot sitting at a prime downtown intersection, or a piece of land down the street that houses a dilapidated, old shopping mall?

The answer is, it's both.

One thing is for sure, however. Residential developers are starting to take hold of the infill concept and commercial developers are hot on their heels.
Consider these projects already in the works:

  • In South Phoenix, Beazer Homes and the city's Community Excellence Project have completed 20 houses near 24th Street and Broadway Road, which are injecting new life into this formerly troubled neighborhood.
  • In Sunnyslope, an affiliate of John C. Lincoln Health Network rebuilt 20 homes in what was a declining area.
  • Trend Homes' Copper Leaf development features 750 new homes in the neighborhood at 24th Street and Roeser Road.
  • Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson is moving ahead with plans to build 195 townhomes on what was a prison site at 32nd and Van Buren streets that used to be a popular strip for streetwalkers.
  • Lauth Property Group is preparing to break ground on Washington Airport Center, a master-planned business park in the heart of Phoenix at 35th and Washington streets, on the site of a former mobile home park.

Ask anyone and they'll tell you infill projects are more cumbersome to undertake than those on the outskirts.

Assembling land can be complicated and time consuming. Permitting and zoning take longer.

Neighbors can present unreasonable obstacles. The recent debate over building heights on the Camelback Corridor is a good example.

And investors see hassles and smaller rates of return.

But, developers are in the business of fulfilling consumer demand. Consumers want shorter commutes and denser, amenity-filled developments.

Municipal leaders also are in the business of fulfilling consumer demand.

As a result, elected officials are going to be faced with the challenge of altering existing planning and zoning regulations to ensure these pieces of infill property ultimately can be developed to their highest and best use.

In the next several years, watch as everything in the core comes under increased scrutiny by developers and redevelopers, all clamoring to accommodate this perceived public need.

What can we do to help, and not hinder, this process?

We can support our civic leaders as they flex to change with the times. And, perhaps most importantly, we can vow to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

High Rise and Loft Tour, March 23, 2006

Well our first tour of 2006 was a tremendous success. We had over 22 passengers join us on a mini bus tour of high rise condos and lofts along the Central Corridor from Camelback all the way to downtown Phoenix. Passengers included real estate agents hoping to learn something about this new market niche, architects looking to see examples of the competition and prospective buyers checking out their options. We viewed and discussed such projects as Landmark Towers, the stagnant Metro Lofts, Executive Towers High Rise, Century Plaza, Artisan Lofts on Central, Portland Place Lofts, Artisan Village, Artisan Parkview, Cosmopolitan Lofts, Summit at Copper Square High Rise, Stadium Lofts and about nine others. Our next tour is scheduled for April 20th and will include infill loft projects around the city's core. If you want to join us go to and click on the tour tab and sign up. For non-agents the cost is only $5.00. Heck the color tour packets we hand out cost me that much; and that's with me eating the cost of the bus.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Scottsdale Loft Projects, 3/02/06

There are a lot of edgy and/or architecturally interesting loft projects being presented to the City of Scottsdale for review or approval. Three of the more interesting or more recent ones include:

Granite Reef Circle Lofts located on Granite Reef in south Scottsdale will have twenty loft units within three three story buildings. Building one will contain four lofts, building two; six lofts, and building three; ten lofts. Each loft will be three stories tall with the attached two car garage on the first level and the living area and bedrooms located on the second and third floors. The floor plans include a 1669 square foot two bedroom (third bedroom optional) loft and an 1850 square foot three bedroom plus den loft model. Prices are yet to be announced.

Safari Drive River Walk (Phase 1) is a 97 unit loft style condo project in the heart of Scottsdale right on Scottsdale Road and just across the street from Scottsdale Fashion Square. Plans have been submitted to the City of Scottsdale and approved by the Scottsdale review board. There is a live/work component to these lofts as well as a straight retail component to the project. One of the unique features of the project is that it meets the City of Scottsdale definition for a green building. Prices and other details are yet to be announced.

Woodmere Condos is a loft style project located right off Scottsdale Road on Woodmere Fairway, very close to Scottsdale Fashion Square. This project has a total of twelve units of which five are a three story, brownstone style condo, while the other seven are two story loft style condos. Each condo will have an attached two car garage while the lofts will use a detached parking structure with assigned spots. The project will feature deep overhangs and steel shade hoods to keep the lofts cool in the summers while still allowing a lot of light. This project also meets some of the City of Scottsdale requirements for green building systems. The project has been approved by the City of Scottsdale Plan Review Board but no prices or other information is available at this time.

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New Phoenix Loft Projects, 3/02/06

Look for a ton of new hip, cool, edgy and architecturally interesting loft projects to come to Phoenix over the next year or more. Three of the more interesting or more recent ones include:

Portland Place is one of my favorite of the larger projects coming to Phoenix. It's a three phase, two hundred unit, condo flat, two story loft, and brownstone flat project located at the edge of the Phoenix art district, next to the new Phoenix light rail line, walking distance from the Phoenix Art Museum and Phoenix Library and a short drive from downtown Phoenix. The floor plans are great, the architecture is interesting and I like the location. The entire project includes three buildings with six, eight and ten stories to house 184 flats and lofts. Four other two story buildings will house sixteen brownstone style flats (their description). The flats and lofts range from small 892 square foot studios to large two bedrooms plus den lofts with 2829 square feet. The brownstone models have two bedrooms with 1563 square feet. All floor plans come with just one parking space (ouch) but some additional spaces are available to purchase. Hopefully with the new Phoenix light rail line owners will need fewer parking spaces.

A super condo conversion with a retro feel like that at the newly redone Valley Ho is coming to Phoenix near 16th Street and Missouri. The Palmaire Condos with eighteen one, two and three bedroom condo flats is just waiting for the Public Report from the City of Phoenix Planning Department. Prices are not available but I’m guessing that prices will be from the mid $250 to 350k range.

Forma is another architectural knockout with sixteen two story lofts to be built in a great part of Phoenix at 3rd Street near Osborn. The owners hired a Chicago architect with a real flair for the dramatic. These two and three bedroom lofts will have a minimum of 2200 square feet and two parking spaces in the first level secured parking structure. In keeping with true loft styling each unit will have 19’ 9” ceilings and private roof decks. Again, no prices yet but I’d guess prices are going to start in the very high $700k range.

I will keep you posted on future events concerning these and other Phoenix loft projects. But know that this is a hot product niche and one worth keeping an eye on.

Will Daly, a Realtor with RE/MAX Excalibur in Phoenix and owner of the marketing labels and combines years of experience, a thorough understanding of current real estate markets, and cutting edge technology to provide his clients the best advice for proven results. He specializes in Loft and High Rise Development/Sales and Condo Conversions. You may reach him directly at (480) 510-8755 or by visiting his blog at

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Why High Rises, Lofts, Row Houses And Other “Urban” Products Rock!

Across the country a growing number of home buyers are electing to buy in the city vs. buying in the suburbs; apparently reversing a trend that has been popular for decades. This direction change is so powerful that home builders which historically built only in the ‘burbs are aggressively expanding into the “urban” market (e.g. KB Homes recently opened an urban division and Engle Homes purchased Artisan Homes, a small builder known for building unique “loft style” and other such urban communities). One can hardly pick up a newspaper without reading about the boom in residential high rise, mid rise, and loft construction. “Urban” communities are shooting up all over the city and new projects are being announced weekly. What the heck triggered this phenomenal change?

In his popular book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “The Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” He further postulates that this tipping point occurs when a number of different factors, independently moving in the same direction, converge thus triggering a powerful response. If the urban trend has experienced a tipping point then contributing or converging factors may include: sky high gasoline prices; people becoming more concerned (slowly) with the environment; investment in new city amenities (e.g. new convention centers, theaters, sporting venues, mass transit etc.); the lackluster performance of the stock market; a hunger for architecturally interesting dwellings; a growing desire among home buyers to simplify their lives; the aging of our Baby Boomers; the growing affluence of our Baby Boomers; the growth in the number of workers “telecommuting;” and PERHAPS a reevaluation of priorities on the part of buyers today.

Bottom line, we all work way too hard and enjoy our lives way too little. The days of driving 45-60 minutes each way to work and back have gotten really old. Any product that can truly make my life more pleasant will get my attention. High rises, lofts, and other urban communities offer safe and secure, cool designed “non-cookie cutter” dwellings, conveniently located near our jobs and unique restaurants and small non-corporate bars and fun shopping and movie theaters and coffee shops and museums and other arts and sporting events and so much more. The allure of high rises and lofts is that we get to have a life.

Now, if the developers will keep the prices at least at a somewhat affordable level, we might see some real changes in this country. Heck, charge me a premium for the privilege of getting my life back, just don’t charge so much that you suck all the wind out of the sails of this movement.

Will Daly, a Realtor with RE/MAX Excalibur in Phoenix and owner of the marketing labels and combines years of experience, a thorough understanding of current real estate markets, and cutting edge technology to provide his clients the best advice for proven results. He specializes in Loft and High Rise Development/Sales and Condo Conversions. You may reach him directly at (480) 510-8755 or by visiting his blog at

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