East Valley Tribune – McCormick Ranch complex to become condos (Artesia)

John Yantis, TribuneScottsdale’s first high-end master-planned community is undergoing some nips and tucks as it adjusts to those interested urban living.A project to turn an aging office complex in McCormick Ranch into 36 upscale condominiums is one of the first major residential redevelopments in what was once the largest master-planned area on a single piece of property in the United States.

International Capital Partners, a Scottsdale-based real estate investment company, plans to build nine two- and three-story buildings that will be mission-style residential villas next to the Paseo Village shopping center at McCormick Parkway and Hayden Road. It will take the place of an office building where tenants have included dentists and other services.

Called Veritas at McCormick Ranch, the project on Via Paseo Del Norte, is one of a handful being undertaken in the community. Developer Tom Donahue hopes to capitalize on the community’s changing demographics and McCormick Ranch’s central location between downtown and north Scottsdale.

“We looked at it as though there’s significant opportunity to upgrade a portion of that area,” he said. “It’s started to make that transition where it was an older neighborhood . . . and now you have a lot of younger people that are working in Scottsdale or even in downtown Phoenix and they’re finding that McCormick Ranch is really the destination place they want to live. What we’re trying to do is meet that demand both for the younger population, the working generation if you will, but even as well as for what we consider the active adults, those that want to be in close proximity where they can walk to shopping and other services.”

At 30 years of age, it is not unusual to have buildings and sites be redeveloped, said Don Hadder, a longtime city planner.

“We have seen buildings much younger get torn down and replaced,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Market conditions have changed, demographics in the area have changed, and user expectations have changed. Redevelopment is a natural process for cities and is a sign that the community is alive and adapting to changes.”

McCormick Ranch was built in phases during the 1970s. The original master plan for the part of the ranch south of Via De Ventura was approved in 1971.

There are two redevelopment areas in the works in the community, Hadder said. Paseo Village is being redone and the former 44-acre Radisson Hotel site near the corner of Indian Bend and Scottsdale Road is already home to an office building and there is more development planned for the site.

Scottsdale -based Starpointe Communities is planning to start demolition of the hotel soon to make way for Artesia, a project of 480 condominiums and 22,000 square feet of shopping space.

Artesia’s gated residential area will include 329 one–story residences, 52 town homes, and 90 brownstones.

Construction will begin in about three months with some units ready in winter 2007. The entire project will completed in the fall of the 2010.

Starpointe also plans Corriente, a condominium project that will go on the former site of a Holiday Inn resort east of Scottsdale Road on Indian Bend Road. Construction has started and completion is scheduled for fall 2008. The project consists of eight 3-story buildings.

Donahue’s project has been approved by the City Council and the McCormick Ranch Property Owners Association. The investment company will seek design approval from the city’s Development Review Board during the next few weeks and construction will take about a year.

“We think it’s great,” said Garth Saager, association executive director. “It’s in a residential area.”

Unlike some real estate players, Donahue said he’s not worried the market is oversaturated with condos.

“You have a lot of apartment complexes that have been retrofitted to condominium use and we believe there is an over-building situation of that,” he said.

“When you’re looking in core areas, core downtown areas, you still have a large demand for urban living. It gets back to location, location, location.”

McCormick facts

McCormick Ranch was started in 1942 by Merle Chaney and sold to Anne and Fowler McCormick in the mid-1940s. It was the last large ranch located in Scottsdale.

• Fowler McCormick was president and chairman of the board of International Harvester. Anne McCormick was attracted to the area because of the dry climate.

• The original purchase consisted of 160 acres purchased primarily as a winter home for the McCormicks. Anne, whose main interest was raising horses, purchased some palominos and started a breeding program. In order to have more riding area, she started acquiring adjacent land.

• Upon Anne McCormick’s death, the horses and the ranch were sold. Probate was completed in July of 1970 with the sale of 4,236 acres to Kaiser-Aetna for $12.1 million.

• Scottsdale city planner George Fretz was hired by Kaiser-Aetna to produce a master plan for the Ranch. It was the largest single piece of property sold for a planned community within city limits in the United States. Today McCormick Ranch contains 3,116 total acres.

• Kaiser-Aetna sold the remaining undeveloped acreage to Transcontinental Properties in 1980. Transcontinental then sold 1,120 acres to Markland Properties. Today, those 1,120 acres are known as Scottsdale Ranch.   www.theholmgroupaz.com