When unveiled during the housing boom of the mid-2000s, Grand Vista was touted as the largest master-planned community in the Northwest Valley.
About 33,000 homes would roll out over the 5,500 acres of the former DaimlerChrysler proving grounds near Wittmann, several miles north of Loop 303 on Grand Avenue.
Six years later, the old proving grounds are still undisturbed desert. And the acres appear destined to stay that way for at least another half decade despite the landowner's recent effort to scale back the project. A smaller, more flexible project may help the lender attract a buyer or developer, an expert said.
In January, the project's lender, New York-based iStar Financial, began working with Surprise to downsize the proposed development.
Under the revised plan, one of the two golf courses would be eliminated, neighborhood parks would be added and the community would have a "central core" design instead of sprawl. The number of single-family homes would be reduced by 350 units and multifamily homes would be decreased by 175 units.
Surprise spokeswoman Diane Arthur said that iStar has not submitted any formal plans for approval and that city planners have not heard from the company since early April.
"We're trying to bring down the upfront infrastructure costs," said Wendy Riddell, a Scottsdale lawyer who represented iStar before the Surprise Planning and Zoning Commission on April 4.
"We think this will be well embraced by the community since it signals a reduction in intensity," Riddell told the commissioners.
Executives with iStar would not comment in detail about Grand Vista plans.