Anderson kicks off new Scottsdale project

Lyle Anderson

Editor's note: Check out our feature on Lyle Anderson from 2011 by clicking here.

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Lyle Anderson is back in the development game.

Anderson, the man who shaped much of modern-day Scottsdale, Ariz., only to lose control of much of his real estate empire in 2008, plans to break ground next month on Sierra Reserve, a 223-acre development next to the Golf Club Scottsdale.

The plans call for up to 250 custom homes, ranging from 3,000 to 6,100 square feet, with most priced between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.

“There seems to be a pretty good market here in Phoenix for that price range,” Anderson said.

The first phase of construction calls for 129 homes. All homes in Sierra Reserve will be single level, set on lots ranging from one-third to one-quarter acre. Anderson plans to simplify the customization process with a variety of architectural styles and 19 adaptable floor plans.

Buyers also will have an option to purchase memberships at Golf Club Scottsdale. Nonrefundable golf memberships are $25,000; refundable memberships are $50,000.

The centerpiece of Sierra Reserve will be a 15,000-square-foot Spanish-Mediterranean amenities compound called The Villa, a gathering place for residents that will consist of five freestanding buildings.

Anderson is the man who built the Desert Highlands and Desert Mountain developments in Scottsdale – the latter sprawled across 8,000 acres and home to six Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. He created The Skins Game and The Tradition to promote those developments.

“Nobody could even know how it feels to drive through those communities and see all of those people living there on a project you developed and enjoying their lives and playing golf,” Anderson said. “People come up to me all the time and say how happy they are in those communities. . . . I feel I’ve had something to do with it. It’s a good feeling.”

Problems arose in Anderson’s business because of a six-year court fight that stopped sales at Hokuli’a, a 1,550-acre development in Hawaii. The financial ripples were felt throughout his company, and in 2008 his lender, the Bank of Scotland, took control of four Anderson projects: Hokuli’a; Superstition Mountain, a former LPGA tournament site; Loch Lomond, former home of the Scottish Open; and Las Campanas, a development in Santa Fe, N.M.

Now he’s starting over, sounding like a young developer on his first job.

“We’re pumped up,” Anderson said. “We’re ready to do this again.”

Anderson sees “pent-up demand” for luxury homes, citing a marked decrease in foreclosures, a lack of new construction in recent years, and the fact that four million people make their home in the Phoenix-Scottsdale market, along with many others who have second homes there. He also is banking on a lack of competition because there is little developable land left in Scottsdale.

He said that four well-heeled investors have joined him in financing Sierra Reserve, though he declined to name them.

Anderson initiated this project two years ago with plans for an eco-resort. That resort is still part of his plans, and he currently is trying to attract private capital to fund it.

Initially, however, he will focus on the business where he made his mark: luxury homes.

“The market seems to be returning, and we are in an area in North Scottsdale that has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a national market and a local market for high-end homes,” Anderson said. “The market seems to improving. We think our timing might be pretty good.”

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