Desert dream takes flight
Play and work mixed thanks to home at Toscana of Desert Ridge in Arizona
The ability to telecommute for work, along with easy access to an airport, means Arizona is a feasible place for Albertans to own a second home.
It also means a Calgary program manager can wear shorts and flip-flops year-round.
“I travel most of the time, so it doesn’t really matter where I live, as long as it’s close to an airport,” says Nancy Evans, a program manager for a technology company.
“I chose Phoenix because it’s a three-hour flight, so it’s easy to get into and out of from Calgary. I chose Phoenix also for the weather.”
Evans came across the Toscana of Desert Ridge development on a trip to Arizona about six or seven years ago when she stayed at the J.W. Marriot Desert Ridge Resort and Spa next door.
“They had their trailer parked on the land, so I went through their show unit at the time and thought it was very nice,” she says. “I always kept that in the back of my mind.”
The fact that it was being developed by Calgary-founded Statesman Group of Companies made the decision to buy that much easier. “I’m familiar with the quality of their property, just being a Calgary company,” says Evans.
Once Toscana had broken ground, she rented a unit for two winters, which gave her a great feel for what it would be like to live there, prompting her to buy her condo in 2010.
“It reminds me of a resort hotel,” she says. “The grounds are immaculate and the pool areas are beautiful. It was also attractive to me because I’m not there full-time. From a security standpoint, I can really just lock up and go.” The service has been “exceptional,” she says.
“There has been an issue with the unit next door that they then needed to get into my unit when I wasn’t there. Just the prompt attention and service that they provide is just phenomenal.”
Evans bought the Venitia plan, a 1,230 square-foot, two-bedroom with den unit with two bathrooms. This floor plan starts at $260,000.
“It’s a really well-designed floor plan,” she says.
The bedrooms are located on either side of the open-concept kitchen and great room.
“I have a lot of family and friends in Calgary who like to visit,” she says about why she decided to buy a two-bedroom unit.
The floor plan gives privacy to Evans should her family or friends visit. She also has a builtin desk in the unit, which she uses as an office when working from home.
From her west-facing balcony, she has a view of the mountains in the distance, though that will change when the next buildings go up.
The 562 residential condominiums make up about a third of the plans for the 20-hectare development, says Alana Mann, senior vice-president of Statesman Group of Companies.
This phase of condos caters to full-time and part-time residents.
These buildings offer concrete structures, secure underground
C MVisit our website under the heading, ‘Rec Properties,’ for more photos and stories. parking, full-time night security and a 24-hour guard-gated entrance.
They also include a club house, as well as amenities such as heated pools, spas and a business centre.
The concierge has arranged special rates with almost 400 area vendors for residents, including dining, shopping, golf, tours and rental cars.
In this residential phase, there is one “golf casita” — a townhome backing onto the golf course — left from the initial 14.
The three-bedroom-plusden casitas are priced at about $550,000 US and each contain more than 2,500 square feet of space with an attached garage.
Condo fees for the residential units are $340 US per month, including everything but electricity and contents insurance.
Calgarians Joddi Melan and Brian McManaman stumbled upon Toscana when they took a wrong turn on the way elsewhere.
They were looking for a warm weather getaway, with an eye to becoming snowbirds when they eventually retire from work in Calgary’s oil and gas industry.
In the meantime, they have been enjoying their two-bedroom unit in Toscana since 2009, and expect that their children and grandchildren will be joining them from time to time.
Drawn to the southwestern feel of the condos, the privacy afforded by the layout and the high-end finishes, Melan says she feels at home.
She appreciates how walkable the community and the surrounding area is, with its easy access to nearby dining and shopping. There’s also plenty of space for the couple and any visitors.
“I’m not used to living in a condo — I’ve lived in houses all my life — but I feel very comfortable there,” says Melan. “I don’t feel squashed in.”
The new phase of the development, released for sale in early summer, is the 466-unit Toscana Vacation Resort Suites.
Statesman aims to break ground in late spring on the phase, which will have four buildings.
The resort will have two large resort pools with beach entry, along with a splash pad — an area for water play that has no standing water — tennis courts and a 12,000-square-foot amenities building with an exercise club and teen rooms for Wii and Xbox.
“It’s a unique type of product,” says Mann.
“We sell to more of an investorowner. What it allows us to do is give full ownership, full deeded title and unfettered access to a fully-furnished condominium that ranges from one-bedrooms at about 780 square feet up to three bedrooms, which are 1,800 square feet.”
There are one-, two- and threebedroom condos in this phase. The one-bedrooms start at $229,900 and the three-bedrooms start at $429,900.
Condo fees for the homeowners’ association are $800 per month. This includes all the extras involved in running a resort, from towel service to building maintenance and the reserve fund.
The club fee for the amenities, such as the exercise rooms and teen rooms, is about $240 per month.
“When we got the entitlement for the property, we got a use permit for short-term rentals on there,” says Mann.
“We can sell full-ownership real estate condominiums with a short-term rental which maximizes the net yield on their investment through a rental program. In this case, we show anywhere from four to over eight per cent net returns.”
The rental pool is an opt-in program for those who are interested.
Manor Village Life Centre will be the final phase of Toscana, with 147 units in one building that provides a supportive community for active seniors.
“It’s well-known in Calgary,” says Mann, pointing to similar Manor Villages in city neighbourhoods including Garrison Woods, Rocky Ridge and Signature Park.
“It’s a signature product that caters to an average age group of 87. We do all the way from independent senior to robust memory care.”
Units can be bought or rented in this program.
Nancy Evans in her home in Calgary. She bought a two-bedroom unit at Toscana of Desert Ridge, a project by Statesman Group of Companies in Phoenix, Ariz.
Lights brighten up the nighttime exterior of Toscana of Desert Ridge by Statesman Group of Companies in Phoenix, Ariz.
The kitchen includes plenty of storage and countertop space.
The dining nook and great room of a unit within the development.