Desert dream takes flight

Play and work mixed thanks to home at Toscana of Desert Ridge in Ari­zona

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - CLAIRE YOUNG

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.

Wil An­dr­uschak/for the Cal­gary Her­ald

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.

Pho­tos, States­man Group of Com­pa­nies

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.

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