By Scott Gaertner
Lifestyle Contributor

1993 was an ugly time in the world of real estate. Arizona was still in the grip of last national financial crisis before our 2008 meltdown, commonly called “The S & L Crisis.”

There was little good news, as shortly before that time the country had been in a recession, new homes construction had dropped to its lowest levels since World War II, and five senators (two from Arizona) were being very publicly investigated by an ethics panel for their involvement with the Lincoln Savings and Loan collapse and its Chairman Charles H. Keating.

Terravita was a child of that S & L crisis and became a shining light for Scottsdale North and signaled the way forward.
In 1991, Terravita was just an exceptionally beautiful piece of High Sonoran Desert at the foot of Black Mountain, with no real purpose . . . and in foreclosure. The Del Webb Corporation purchased the property from the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) even though it didn’t fit their normal business model. At the time they were famous for converting large tracts of agricultural land into huge age restricted “retirement” communities like Sun City. They instead chose to build the smallest and the first non-age restricted community that Del Webb had ever built and call it Terravita.

The name Terravita (Latin for ‘Living Earth’) signaled another dramatic departure from the company’s normal mode of operation. Rather than bringing in all the huge Caterpillar tractors to scrape the surface off of every inch of the land, they instead preserved the natural beauty and disturbed as little as possible. They relocated thousands of cacti and trees to embrace what became the community’s motto and passion: Terravita – The Harmony of Land and Life.

The first home sales were the last week of November in 1993, and Terravita immediately became the fastest selling community in the United States. Six separate times, lifestyle seeking buyers camped out in the Terravita parking lot at the opening of new phases, to ensure they could get a homesite that they wanted. The longest campout lasted 10 days! In the end, what was planned to have been a six to eight year sell out was gone in just 3.5 years. The community won tons of national industry awards and spawned many copycat communities both inside the U.S. and out.
25 years later, Terravita continues to be an incredible value for lifestyle seeking homeowners.

The community will be celebrating its first quarter of a century this month with the grand opening of a completely renovated new clubhouse. I was proud to be a part of the Del Webb team that built Terravita back then, and even prouder to be helping folks discover the lifestyle Terravita and Scottsdale North represent today.

Scott Gaertner is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Northeast, who for the past 25+ years has helped more people to find their lifestyle niche in the Scottsdale North area than anyone else. He also contributes his thoughts on lifestyle interests in the area. If you have something of interest in your community, please contact us at [email protected]