Posted on April 15, 2019

North Marana comes into its own

If you haven’t stopped in the North Marana area in the past 5 years, it’s worth a closer look. This area, which is located just west of I-10 northwest of Tucson, is showing some of the best activity in the region and there are no signs of it slowing anytime soon.

Compared with Tucson’s constrained developable land supply, North Marana has plenty of runway to continue to provide homebuilders and developers ample room to grow. Mainly due to its agricultural origins, the area is free of washes and other site constraints that continue to challenge the development of the high desert areas to the east. Infrastructure is abundant in the area which makes it attractive to the developers as the barriers to get larger projects off the ground are considerably less than in other areas of Pima County.

Couple all of this with North Marana’s extremely strong housing statistics and you have a market with momentum that is simply too significant to ignore.

Gladden Farms leads the way
Gladden Farms has enjoyed a strong resurgence over the past 5 years. Historically speaking, Gladden Farms was one of the initial master-planned communities to form during the early 2000’s. It got off to a quick start and quickly ramped up to over 500 sales.

While the downcycle caused things to take a pause, the momentum in 2019 is at back at full-tilt.The community went from 1 to 4 homebuilders in 2016 and has been selling hundreds of lots annually.2018 was one of its best years with the sale of 347 lots.

Most impressive has been the strong pricing power of the community. The average sales price has risen almost $60,000 in the past 3 years and is up over $100,000 since the bottom of the market in 2011. Homebuilders have taken notice; they continue to reload lots at an aggressive pace and in-turn are seeing strong sales and traffic. This should continue as there are (at least) another 400 lots planned to close to homebuilders in 2019.

Will White of Land Advisors (who handles the marketing at Gladden Farms) commented, “The resurgence of this area, led by Gladden Farms, is impressive, but it is not surprising. North Marana is seen as the ‘go-to’ spot for the future growth in Pima County. The areas’ attributes and high-performance are continuing to fuel the demand and attention from builders and homebuyers alike.”

Future Land
And while Gladden Farms has rightfully received much positive acclaim, it is not the only area of north Marana that is getting attention. Currently, there are only a small handful of standalone subdivisions such as Barnett Farms and Cypress Gardens are ready for construction and homebuilders will likely move forward with those in 2019. This is far from enough to satisfy the underlying demand, though, and several larger projects such as the Sanders Grove and Tortolita masterplans – which could supply over 10,000 future lots – are well along the entitlement path and should provide inventory solutions for homebuilders within the next few years.

Part of the desirability of this area can be traced back to 2 interchange access points and great accessibility to I-10. Further, these larger amounts of unconstrained land will be able to be thoughtfully planned and provide infrastructure synergies that are unique to this area. The result will be a well-planned lifestyle and convenience region that is sure to appeal to family homebuyers, retirees, and second homebuyers.

Amenities
From new schools, fire stations, restaurants, and shopping, north Marana has seen it all over the past few years. The new Gladden Farms elementary school has been a strong addition to the area and comes in addition to the K-8 program already in existence. The new Northwest Fire Station being constructed at Gladden Farms will be a state-of-the-art facility and a welcome addition the neighborhood. There has been a flurry of restaurant activity near the “round-a-bout” are near the Marana interchange in the past 18 months and construction activity is well underway.

Market Share
Currently, approximately 40% of new home permits in Pima County are in the Town of Marana. As absorption continues to increase and new land and communities are opened-up in the north Marana area, experts are estimating that this area alone could be responsible for more than 50% of all homebuilding activity in Pima County.

The Tucson metropolitan area has seen a ‘tightening’ of developable land since the bottom of the market in 2011, and several areas are further constrained by environmental issues, zoning, and governmental lands. In contrast, the north Marana agricultural area is free to continue to capitalize on this opportunity and capture more market share. It has the land to grow and that is a valued commodity in a supply-constrained market.

Homebuilders
The north Marana area is home to Meritage Homes, Lennar, Richmond American, LGI, DR Horton and KB Home. Each of these homebuilders have 1-2 communities currently open for sale and, with the impressive sales pace, are on the lookout for additional opportunities. Further, Tucson has several other homebuilders that are not yet active in this area but will likely have it as part of their future growth plans. Simply put, homebuilders are aggressive to be in an area that is having success and has (will have) available lots to develop.

Summary
Will White sums it up well, “North Marana is really one of the best answers to the region’s ongoing land problem. The area has experienced landowners that have shown the willingness to accommodate the builders and are open for business. Tucson metro’s job creation is as strong and demand from families and home buyers is high and, by most accounts, is getting higher. North Marana has produced eye-opening stats over the past 3-5 years, and we think that will continue for a very long time. Put all of this together and it makes the homebuilders job a lot easier”.

One thing is certain: if North Marana hasn’t been in the plans for homebuilders, employers, and commercial users in the past, you can bet it will be in the immediate future!