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Mesa developer’s new tactic: Build jobs, then homes

June 2012 | Related Categories: What's New

Article by the Arizona Republic – azcentral.com

It will be another year before houses go up on one of the last large pieces of residential land in Mesa, even though the developer bought it six years ago.

The former General Motors Co. proving ground in east Mesa sold at the height of the housing boom amid a fanfare of development plans and with images of the site becoming a new city at the metro region’s eastern edge.

Today, the site has become a case study in post-boom housing business and the search for new jobs and new industries in post-recession Arizona.

The push to grow new jobs — and the delay in building housing — has been planned, but this wasn’t the original plan.

When Scottsdale-based developer DMB paid GM $260 million for the 3,200-acre property in 2006, new housing subdivisions were already springing up on surrounding parcels.

In summer 2007, a town-hall meeting in downtown Mesa focusing on the proving-ground redevelopment drew hundreds from the real-estate industry. At the event, excitement over the project was most apparent among homebuilders, who asked about design requirements and when the first lots would be for sale.

By the end of that year, the picture had changed for homebuilders.

In 2008, developers and homebuilders began giving land back to the banks or going out of business. Privately held DMB suffered, too, slowing its projects and eventually laying off a third of its staff. The long-standing model of building new homes farther and farther outside metro Phoenix stopped working.

As the housing market went from slowing to a crash, it became clear to the developer that Arizona’s model of building homes was broken.

The developer began focusing on the future of the surrounding area.

Read article: www.azcentral.com

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