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Desert Ridge Land Sold, Development to Finally Restart

Aerial rendering of a 96.5-acre parcel in Desert Ridge called City North. Credit: Crown Realty

By Catherine Reagor for The Arizona Republic

Development on a big chunk of northeast Phoenix’s popular Desert Ridge community is no longer on hold. That means more money could start flowing to Arizona schools.

After years of contentious legal battles and bankruptcy filings, California-based Crown Realty & Development emerged as the winning bidder on the 96.5-acre parcel in Desert Ridge’s core called City North on Monday.

Crown is paying $54M for the land that has been valued at more than $120M, according to court documents.

Crown, which developed the Montelucia resort in Paradise Valley, also won the role to be “master developer” of Desert Ridge’s remaining 2,000 acres of vacant land.

The 5,700-acre Desert Ridge is located on Arizona-state owned land centered around the Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard. More homes, apartments, restaurants, retail and offices for the area means more money for state schools.

The new City North project will include a residential core, office buildings from four to 10 stories high, new restaurants and several hotels, said Rick Carpinelli, senior vice president at Crown.

Construction on the first phase, including new roads, will start in a few months, according to the developer.

Fight for Prime Desert Land

Many of the disputes that stopped Desert Ridge’s new development stem from lawsuits over City North between Phoenix developer Bruce Gray and Chicago-based Thomas J. Klutznick Co. more than a decade ago.

Crown became involved a few years ago after buying debt that Gray had defaulted on. One of the notes was secured by City North and the “master developer rights” for all of Desert Ridge.

Gray’s development groups filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The case was resolved last summer when the bankruptcy court ruled the Desert Ridge property tied to the community’s master developer rights be sold.

The role of master developer doesn’t mean Crown will buy all the remaining land in Desert Ridge, but it has the option to work with other developers and plan future projects in the community.

Read more at The Arizona Republic.

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