That has begun to change. Homebuilders are putting houses on long-dormant lots in the Buckeye master-planned community and the developer is readying a large chunk of land for hundreds of new homes.
Also, Verradoâ€™s developer, DMB Associates Inc., has revived plans for a community for residents 55 and older, which could one day include thousands of homes.
Although the new-home market is showing signs of life, Verrado still struggles to attract new shops and businesses to the community.
This summer, crews will begin turning a 150-acre piece of desert into the next phase of the communityâ€™s Heritage District. The saguaro-studded parcel will become about 640 home lots and 13 parks, the developer says.
It will be an important milestone, said Tracy Simmons, Verradoâ€™s director of marketing.
â€œItâ€™s really the first major-development work of this scale thatâ€™s been done since 2005-06,â€ Simmons said.
Verrado officials are planning a grand opening in spring 2014, during a yearlong celebration of the communityâ€™s 10th anniversary.
The property slated for new homes is north of McDowell Road, south of Thomas Road, and east of Verrado Way across the street from the communityâ€™s fire station.
Meanwhile, this week, a homebuilder unveiled plans to begin construction on some lots that were never fully developed during the economic downturn. The new community, Vallarta at Verrado,will be built by Shea Homes.
Shea announced its intent Tuesday, saying it would break ground later this summer on 63 home sites in a gated community on Verradoâ€™s golf course.
New-home sales up
Verrado is part of a a resurgence of homebuilding in Buckeye. New-home sales have picked up, particularly over the past two years, Simmons said.
From Jan. 1 through April 24, 108 homes had been sold, 40 percent more than what was sold during the same period in 2012, according to DMB.
Overall, the total number of new single-family home permits issued in Buckeye increased 20 percent, with 144 permits issued during the first three months of this year compared with 120 permits during the same period in 2012, according to a report by the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.
â€œPhoenix is one of the areas leading the housing rebound in the industry and Verrado has been a beneficiary,â€ Simmons said.
Verrado opened in 2004. The 8,800-acre community has nearly 6,000 residents. At build-out, the population is expected to be 30,000 to 40,000.
The community is allowed to have as many as 14,000 homes, but it more likely will have from 10,000 to 11,000, Simmons said.
Since it opened, 2,193 homes have been sold and are either occupied or under construction. Those homes sit on one-third of Verradoâ€™s land. One-third will be for future development and the future age-restricted community will occupy the other third.
The housing rebound has reignited plans forÂ Verradoâ€™s first neighborhood exclusively for those 55 and older, a group marketers call â€œactive adults.â€
Developers will use 1,200 acres nestled in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains to build 3,500 homes. Verrado Way will be extended and the age-restricted community will add to Verradoâ€™s eastern border.
The community is expected to include a golf course and a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse. The neighborhood is slated to open in late 2014 or early 2015.
Age-restricted homes have always been part of the plans for Verrado, but a decision to build one came within the past year, Simmons said.
â€œAs weâ€™re coming through the recession, weâ€™ve realized that there was a phenomenal opportunity,â€ she said. â€œSo many people are aware of the just exponential growth in the (Baby) Boomer market.â€
While plans take shape for larger developments in Verrado, homebuilders have begun erecting homes on lots that were idle during the recession.
Matthew and Jennifer Ermoian closed on their first house Monday. They selected a roughly 2,300-square-foot Venise model built by Richmond American Homes in the Kingâ€™s Green neighborhood of Verrado.
The two purchased a home that was under construction. They were able to customize the inside because the interior wasnâ€™t finished.
The young couple, who were renting a two-story apartment above a bank on Verradoâ€™s Main Street, plan to grow into the home by having children, Matthew said.
Both he and his wife are paramedics. Matthew once worked for the Buckeye Fire Department in Verrado, and his parents where among the first homebuyers in the community.
â€œJennifer and I have decided we want to make it a generational thing and have the grand kids next door to the grandparents eventually,â€ he said.
His job on the Gila River Reservation means Ermoian will be driving about 140miles round-trip.
â€œItâ€™s very comfortable, itâ€™s very family-oriented with all amount of parks and everything else going on out here,â€ Ermoian said of Verrado when asked about the long commute.
â€œAnd eventually, looking at the statistics, Buckeye probably 20 years from now will be central Phoenix the way things are going.â€
George and Mary Lu Cannelos moved to Verrado from Alaska in October, leaving what George called â€œtiresome wintersâ€ behind.
â€œTo my delight, Iâ€™ve noticed some of the orphan lots being built on, which is good for the development,â€ said Cannelos,who has family in the Phoenix area.
For example, Cannelos said Scottsdale-based Meritage Homes is building homes north of the Raven Golf Course in the Main Street District. The company is also constructing homes in previous phases of the Heritage District.
Meritage is building homes from approximately 1,900 square feet to 4,300 square feet that are priced from mid-$200,000 to mid-$300,000 according to DMB.
Like the Ermoians, the Cannelosespurchased in Kingâ€™s Green. Cannelos said he enjoys Verradoâ€™s narrow streets, ample foliage and numerous parks.
â€œIt strives to (be) a true small-town community as opposed to living in just a subdivision,â€ he said, adding the couple are raising a 12-year-old grandson.
When he and his wife moved in a neighborhood captain gave them an apple pie, he added.
â€œI like the fact they we have front porches and when they say, â€˜Youâ€™re going to meet your neighbors,â€™ itâ€™s true.â€
While residential development has picked up, commercial building has yet to see a major shift, Simmons said.
â€œThat has lagged behind the residential and it has not yet seen quite the lift that residential is enjoying,â€ she said.
â€œWe certainly are looking at opportunities,â€ Simmons added. â€œThe great news is our Main Street District, which is our commercial core, is 100 percent leased with vibrant businesses.â€
Verrado set aside 4 million square feet for shops and businesses and 1 million square feet of that space has been developed so far.
The remaining 3 million square feet slated for commercial space sits on 250 acres and DMBâ€™s zoning entitlements will allow the company to adjust the amount of acreage needed to respond to the market, Simmons said.
The communityâ€™s Main Street features a Bashasâ€™ market. WorleyParsons, an engineering firm, is its most visible office tenant.
Outside of Main Street district, the largest recent commercial development was in September 2012 when Banner Health opened a clinic near Interstate 10 and Verrado Way in the community.
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