If you drove past the Vineyards at Cottonwood construction site in August, you likely saw stalled progress while the city and the developer, Prescott-based Granite Mountain Asset Management, came to terms on a financing assurance agreement.
Located at Grosetta Ranch Road and State Route 89A, Vineyards at Cottonwood is a master-planned community of 100.83 acres and approximately 550 homes. The projected length for build-out is seven to 10 years, comprising six housing phases, each with similar mixes of single-family, patio homes and condominiums.
The development will prioritize open space and wine culture: Each road boasts a wine-related name, such as Reisling, Bordeaux and Sangria. Granite Mountain began the development’s first phase, with 41 homes, in June.
Now that both parties are satisfied with the financing assurance agreement — which guarantees that infrastructure will not be left as an outstanding bill for the taxpayer should the development go under — construction is progressing quickly.
“We’re moving now at breakneck speed,” Granite Mountain Asset’s Clark Pettit said, adding that the first phase’s infrastructure, including underground utilities and roadway grading, is more than halfway complete. “We expect to have all that finished late November [and] once we’re through with that we’re able to move at developer speed. We’ve agreed with the city we could start the two spec and two model [homes] right away .... Those’ll be finished first week of December.”
At that point, according to Pettit, the development will begin sales, with price points between $299,000 and $345,000. Marketing will primarily target “active people close to retirement” in Arizona and California, with more modest efforts focused on the rest of the U.S. and Canada. Pettit said the development will prioritize outdoor and athletic amenities, including extensive walking trails, and accentuate a “real sense of community.”
Though the development is progressing rapidly now, Pettit said, “It took a long time to get through the whole city process, a lot longer than we’ve seen on other projects. He said in his view, Cottonwood has not dealt with such a complex Planned Area Development project in some time and is likely wary of financial risk following nearly a decade of recession.
“You end up in a more complex agreement than [normal] and that caused the city to reach for outside counsel,” he said. “It’s not intentional obstruction .... The city and city staff have been great to work with.”
“The big scare on both sides was the last recession,” said Cottonwood city manager Doug Bartosh. “Probably everyone is more cautious than before.”
He added that the finance assurance agreement included an estimate of infrastructure cost and a letter of credit the developer can draw from.
“It comes down to an issue of risk,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is have a development go under and there isn’t enough capital. We want to make sure the citizens are protected, that there’s no way they have to pay for infrastructure once homes are for sale [but] we’ve met with the bank and are assured the developer has the funds available.”