Meritage Homes has defaulted on its Desert Ridge property, where the home builder planned to put up a 1,200-home gated community called Calasera.
The property, at the southeastern corner of 56th Street and Deer Valley Road, is 288 acres. It was the last sizable Desert Ridge parcel to be in private hands.
The company bought the land in July 2005 at an Arizona State Land Department auction for $92.2 million, a record at the time. The parcel is one of six left for construction of single-family homes in the Desert Ridge area.
Of the other five, four were returned to the Land Department after defaults last year, and the fifth has never come up for auction.
The default leaves only two Desert Ridge parcels that have been purchased but not developed. Both are apartment sites along the eastern side of 56th Street north of Loop 101.
Under the rules of state land sales, developers are on a seven-year payment schedule. When payments are missed, default notices go out. The notices trigger a 60-day period that gives developers time to make good on their deals. If they fail, the land reverts to the Land Department.
Meritage is in the midst of the 60-day period.
The default knocks the Land Department back five years in its plans to develop Desert Ridge, a 5,700-acre master-planned area in northeast Phoenix. The only properties purchased since 2004 that remain in developers' hands are the two apartment parcels near 56th Street and Loop 101, and the parcel south of Loop 101 where the Sagewood retirement village and Musical Instrument Museum are being built.