`Common practice’ for subdivisions to sell lots before gaining approval
They’re impressive developments, the subjects of full-page real estate advertisements. They have romantic western names and their ads come complete with photographs of mountain vistas and drawings of fully landscaped yards, lovely homes, and in some cases, world-class clubhouses and golf courses.There’s only one catch. They don’t exist – yet. In New Castle, two such properties can be found.Riverside Village, a 152-unit condominium complex, received town approvals last year. Its developers, Wintergreen Homes, publicly marketed residential unit sales prior to taking ownership of the building site. Realtor Pat Fitzgerald, of Glenwood Brokers, was handling the sale of the property to Wintergreen Homes on behalf of its owners, Riverside Park LLC, when Wintergreen Homes project developers cancelled the real estate contract before the project got a chance to break ground.”It’s a fairly common practice,” said Fitzgerald of developers marketing properties well before they’re built or even approved. “It happens quite frequently. Developers aren’t signing contracts or closing on properties. They’re just taking reservations.”Michael Smith, a spokesman for Lakota Canyon Ranch, concurs. “These ads give people an idea of what the project is going to look like,” he said.Lakota Canyon Ranch, formerly Eagles Ridge Ranch, is an 893-unit, 18-hole golf course development. In contrast to Riverside Village, its developers, Lakota Canyon Ranch LLC, have already purchased the 487-acre parcel of land for their proposed golf community, but they’re still working out a laundry list of concerns with New Castle Planning & Zoning Commission members before they go before New Castle Town Council for project approval.
Riverside Village, located directly south of New Castle’s exit 105 on Interstate 70, is a 13-acre parcel of land near the Colorado River. Between that parcel and the Colorado River, the town owns 20 acres, which serve as a popular, unofficial city park locals often use for fishing and exercising dogs. Riverside Park LLC has owned and operated an RV camping business on the adjacent parcel for years – until Wintergreen Homes, an Avon development company, put a contract on the land last year and gained town approvals to build a condominium complex. Before Wintergreen Homes purchased the parcel, Riverside Village developers started marketing the condominium complex through Mason & Morse Real Estate. Full-page ads with drawings of residential buildings and pedestrians walking along river trails began appearing in local newspapers. But the development fell through when Wintergreen Homes decided against purchasing the property. Now, the land – and the development – are again up for sale.”I’m not at liberty to say why the project didn’t go through,” said Fitzgerald, who’s handling the listing on behalf of Riverside Park. “But the good news is the property is approved for Wintergreen Homes’ condominium development.” That means a developer who wants to build the exact 152-unit complex can purchase the property and go ahead.For the time being however, Riverside Village is just a figment of a potential developer’s – or homeowner’s – imagination.
Lakota Canyon Ranch is another development in the New Castle area being advertised – even though it doesn’t yet exist. Still, without necessary town approvals, developers are marketing lot reservations. “There’s nothing in our town policies or ordinances that keeps developers from taking reservations on projects that haven’t yet received town approvals,” said Steve Rippy, New Castle town administrator. “We don’t encourage the practice, but there’s nothing that says they can’t do it.”A full-page ad appeared in regional newspapers last week. “Coming Soon … Lakota Canyon Ranch,” it read. “Due to phenomenal response to filing one, we are announcing the opening of the second filing with fairway and hillside view lots!” The ad contained a photograph of the view from the as-yet undeveloped project, and a drawing of the proposed Lakota Canyon Clubhouse.Lakota Canyon spokesman Michael Smith said earlier, similar marketing generated 85 reservations out of 91 parcels offered. He said the ads are “the first piece of the puzzle” in generating public interest in the development.”We take potential buyers over to the property for a look,” said Smith. “We tour folks around and show them what we’re offering.”Potential buyers can reserve a lot for a $1,000, fully refundable fee. “Placing a reservation on a piece of property also allows folks to secure a lot at the current price point,” he added. Current lot prices start at $65,000. Smith is especially enthused about marketing Lakota Canyon’s James Engh-designed golf course, but developers must address concerns town officials have about water supply and usage before that’s approved. Still, current marketing material says the golf course is scheduled to open “fall 2003.””They have an interesting schedule,” Rippy said with a laugh.
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