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Lennar Lowers Prices, Lot Sizes for Surprise Asante

By Lesley Wright for The Arizona Republic

Lennar Communities Development Inc. plans to add less-expensive homes, small shopping centers and townhouses to Asante, a master-planned community in Surprise that was supposed to be a luxurious showstopper.

The zoning changes could revive construction in the sprawling $1B community, which was crippled by the housing crash in 2007.

Disappointed Surprise officials approved the change of plans in June and acknowledged that the development needs a jump-start.

While Lennar executives originally promoted a 14,000-home development with a major retail-entertainment district, the developer has built just 58 homes.

The approved zoning changes would allow Lennar to build townhouses, homes in clusters and houses that are built closer together.

Originally the development was supposed to have a mix of mid-priced homes as well as luxury homes built on 1-acre lots.

Lennar unveiled Asante in 2004 as a 3,000-acre, high-end community that would be a signature development of emerging Surprise. The initial proposal called for 14,000 homes, a commercial core to rival the Desert Ridge Marketplace in northeast Phoenix, parks and several schools. About 40,000 people were projected to live in Asante and Asante North.

At the June 19 council meeting, Surprise council members reluctantly approved zoning for homes that likely would be priced $200,000 to $300,000 but would look similar to the existing homes.

Lennar consultant Cindy Paddock said that the developer may build more luxury homes later but that the developer needs to start selling some houses now.

The newest plans call for neighborhood shopping centers that will have dry cleaners, drugstores and small medical offices. Asante’s population is still too low to attract a grocery store, Lennar executives said at a community meeting.

Much of the infrastructure is in place for thousands of new homes. Asante’s sidewalks and streetlights now stretch into the empty desert “as far as the eye can see,” Asante homeowner Linda Keating said.

Read more at AZCentral