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JCB crane working near sand quarry during sunset (Getty Images Photo)

“Casa Grande is evolving, it’s not a fringe community anymore.”

The last of Casa Grande’s “zombie” subdivisions is finally being developed after lying fallow for 12 years.

The subdivision, Tuscany, and others were launched in the runup to the Great Recession and then left unfinished when the housing market collapsed.

That left them as desert eyesores in Casa Grande, located along Interstate 10 roughly halfway between Tucson and metro Phoenix.

But Century Communities recently purchased Tuscany, and City Planner Jim Gagliardi said cleanup is planned and actual construction could be just six months away, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported.

“A year or two ago at this time we had many getting snapped up by homebuilders,” Gagliardi said of the subdivisions and planned housing developments that were frozen in time for about a decade. “This is the last one, it lay fallow for 12 years.”

The immediate plan for Tuscany is cleanup of the landscaping; the project already has roads and sewer lines.

Richard Wilkie, the city’s economic development director, said housing is booming nearly everywhere in the Pinal County city except for the industrial corridor on Casa Grande’s west side.

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“We are moving forward to achieve our ultimate possibilities,” Wilkie said. “When you have 18 or more builders in Casa Grande, our population is seeing a surge. Casa Grande is evolving, it’s not a fringe community anymore.”

Wilkie also noted that major retail and commercial companies closely follow rooftops, so many of the most popular requests — Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods were mentioned— are now more likely to show interest in having a location within the city or area around it.

Steven Weaver, Casa Grande’s deputy city manager, said that nobody is particularly sorry to leave the “zombie” moniker behind, as properties had lots that were empty or only partially landscaped. At certain times the city had to even place barricades around them to keep people from entering.

“People come here and go, ‘What is that? Why are there no houses?’” Weaver said of the subdivisions. “When you fill these all up, then it looks like you are complete. It doesn’t look like a ghost town anymore.”

City Manager Larry Rains said that even as they lay empty, the “zombies” had been a cost to the city because of costs for roads that belong to the city.

Now the city is at last filling out all projects that had some level of infrastructure, what Gagliardi called the “low-hanging fruit.”

City planners said that developers would continue to build out lots within the current city boundaries.

Wilkie said that availability of state-issued water supply certificates will dictate where single-family homes can be built.

However, the city is considering the possibility of rental homes, which would be easier to approve and build.

Gagliardi said the city would like multifamily construction to “catch up” to the rate of single-family growth. Only one major apartment complex has been built in Casa Grande in the last two decades, but demand for rental units has significantly increased in recent years.

The city’s 2030 General Plan was modified to allow for some zoning for multistory residential homes, possibly downtown.

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