Sweet spot

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - MARTY HOPE

AThe Su­per­sti­tions are a place where time has re­fused to ad­here to man’s rules, and seems to do its own thing, at times al­most in de­fi­ance of man.” — The Wolf Lodge Foun­da­tion. t the base of the leg­endary Su­per­sti­tion Moun­tain range, turned a fiery bronze by the desert sun, Tommy and Marie Thomp­son have re­opened the doors to an ager­e­stricted com­mu­nity, Dolce Vita, that caters to both the ad­ven­ture­some and home­bod­ies.

But re­gard­less of your life­style, the call of the Su­per­sti­tions is strong, the leg­ends end­less and the land­scape al­lur­ing.

Views from Dolce Vita into the mys­tery-shrouded Ari­zona moun­tains re­call the great­est leg­end of them all — that of Ja­cob Walz, a Ger­man prospec­tor who ap­par­ently found the moth­er­lode.

When he died, the se­cret of the lo­ca­tion of The Lost Dutch­man’s Mine went with him, so the story goes.

It’s the fo­cus of con­ver­sa­tion ev­ery once in a while of those gath­ered in the mas­ter-planned com­mu­nity’s

33,000-square-foot club­house.

In an ear­lier life, Dolce Vita (Ital­ian for “sweet life”) was called Su­per­sti­tion Springs. But when the Thomp­sons bought it just a few years ago, a ma­jor re­con­struc­tion and ex­pan­sion was un­der­taken.

With a goal to con­struct a to­tal of 720 homes, the 55-plus com­mu­nity near

Apache Junc­tion, Ariz., now has 320 com­pleted homes. There are also re­sale and rental home op­por­tu­ni­ties within the com­plex.

“When com­ple­tion will be is de­pen­dent on the econ­omy,” says Lori Tuter, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing for Dolce Vita. “But we are see­ing an in­crease in buyer in­ter­est.”

The Phoenix area’s real es­tate mar­ket has been bat­tered pretty badly by the eco­nomic down­turn, global re­ces­sion, and lack of buyer in­ter­est in recre­ation and re­sort prop­er­ties.

“As a mar­ket, we’re now ad­just­ing from be­ing overly ag­gres­sive to see­ing some sta­bi­liza­tion,” says Tuter. “Prices are off 10 to 15 per cent.”

At Dolce Vita, home prices run from $94,900 to $195,900 on lots that lease for $395 to $530 per month.

While Tu­tor says there is a good blend of buy­ers from all walks of life and ar­eas of the United States and Canada, one of the strong points with Dolce Vita is that about 75 per cent of res­i­dents live there year­round.

“That’s good be­cause un­like a lot of other com­mu­ni­ties, this doesn’t be­come a ghost town in the sum­mer,” she says. “There are al­ways peo­ple around and things to do.”

The grow­ing at­trac­tion of Dolce Vita has much to do with the el­e­gance of the prop­erty and the ameni­ties it has to of­fer.

Tuter says there is an Old World ap­peal be­cause of the Tus­can de­sign, the wellap­pointed club­house and the fact there are eight man­u­fac­tured home styles to choose from — along with an abun­dance of ac­tiv­i­ties in a three-hectare ac­tiv­ity area — to keep res­i­dents busy and happy.

The club­house, for in­stance, has a li­brary with a com­puter cen­tre, and eight bil­liard ta­bles in the games room that pro­vide great views of the Su­per­sti­tions. There are also fit­ness fa­cil­i­ties, a crafts room, card rooms, a movie the­atre, a fully-equipped kitchen and a 6,200-square-foot ball­room for con­certs and par­ties.

Out­door ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude aquaro­bic classes and a 3,000-square-foot heated pool, along with two spas, a ten­nis court, bocce and horse­shoe pits, shuf­fle­board, a putting green and an am­phithe­atre.

There is also a full-time ac­tiv­i­ties di­rec­tor.

Be­cause it is an age-re­stricted, gated com­mu­nity, at least one res­i­dent in each home must be 55 or older and no­body un­der the age of 40 may re­side in the homes.

“Of course, though, kids and grand­chil­dren are al­ways wel­come to visit,” says Tuter. One small pet is also al­lowed.

When asked about res­i­dents leas­ing their land in­stead of own­ing it, Tuter says it is in lieu of pay­ing home­owner as­so­ci­a­tion dues, monthly man­age­ment charges or mem­ber­ship fees.

“The space lease pays for all of the com­mu­nity ameni­ties, in­clud­ing the club­house and all its fa­cil­i­ties,” she says.

Home­own­ers do have to pay prop­erty taxes and util­i­ties.

Dolce Vita has re­cently been rec­og­nized by a na­tional Amer­i­can mag­a­zine for ev­ery­thing it has to of­fer.

For the third time in four years, the Thomp­son de­vel­op­ment has been named to the top 100 mas­ter­planned com­mu­ni­ties in the United States.

“With sev­eral hun­dred en­tries re­ceived each year, Dolce Vita takes home the im­pres­sive dis­tinc­tion of be­ing among the top com­mu­ni­ties in the na­tion that show­case a unique col­lec­tion of ameni­ties and ac­tiv­i­ties for its res­i­dents,” says Where to Re­tire mag­a­zine.

The fi­nal se­lec­tion is based on cri­te­ria such as cost, lo­ca­tion and range of life­style con­ve­niences.

“We are so thrilled to be rec­og­nized with this ex­traor­di­nary hon­our, par­tic­u­larly com­ing from as no­table a mag­a­zine as Where to Re­tire,” says Tuter. “Dolce Vita strives to give its res­i­dents an af­ford­able and lux­u­ri­ous place to call home, and to be na­tion­ally rec­og­nized for that is just ic­ing on the cake.”

Dolce Vita has been rec­og­nized for its dis­tinc­tive qual­i­ties.

With quaint, quiet streets, a con­tem­po­rary fit­ness cen­tre with state-of-the-art car­dio and cir­cuit-train­ing equip­ment, and a Mediter­ranean-in­spired club­house, Dolce Vita of­fers a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ameni­ties to fit ev­ery life­style.

There are also monthly ac­tiv­i­ties planned to keep the com­mu­nity so­cial and ac­tive, says the mag­a­zine. Then there is the mys­tique.

“Best know who you are and have a keep re­spect for the desert, and if you do not be­lieve in para­nor­mal ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore you play here, you will af­ter you leave. The Apaches call it the Devil’s Play­ground” — The Wolf Lodge Foun­da­tion.

Cour­tesy, Dolce Vita

The Dolce Vita de­vel­op­ment in Ari­zona in­cludes this 33,000 square foot club­house, with the Su­per­sti­tion Moun­tains in the back­ground.

Cour­tesy, Dolce Vita

Buy­ers at the Dolce Vita de­vel­op­ment in Ari­zona can re­lax in th­ese out­door pools and spas.

Cour­tesy, Dolce Vita

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