For some 'zombie subdivisions,' recent housing boom brings a 2nd chance at life

So-called 'zombie subdivisions' still dot the Valley's landscape, more than 10 years after the Great Recession gave birth to them.

What's a ‘zombie subdivision’?

Zombie subdivisions are neighborhoods that developers walked away from when money got tight.

Carrie Toye lives a stone's throw from a big one. The subdivision is called Estrella Vista in Buckeye.

"A lot of people dumping their trash and things, like beds over there, but looks like they’re preparing it for something. I don’t know what," said Toye.

Estrella Vista is not the only zombie subdivisions. Others lurk in areas like Laveen and Casa Grande. Prime properties that are dead as a door nail for more than a decade.

Paul Tice and James Gagliardi, keep a close eye on the 10 sites for the City of Casa Grande.

"These areas are unsightly and targets for graffiti and weed growth that creates the typical public nuisance issues with them, adversely affecting the character of the community," said Tice, who is a Planning and Development Coordinator for Casa Grande.

Many zombie subdivisions put down roots around 2005, at a time when Arizona was experiencing its last housing boom. Three years later, the Great Recession hit, and many developers went belly up almost overnight, leaving behind half-built neighborhoods that appear frozen in time.

A second chance at life?

They may appear dead, but some of these zombie subdivisions are getting some CPR, or sorts. The economy is coming off life support, and the Valley is home to the second liveliest housing market in the nation.

Casa Grande is ready for the reincarnation.

"I think slow and steady wins the race, and we will continue to see all that vacant land eventually fill in with development," said Gagliardi, who is Casa Grande's City Planner.

In Buckeye, the Tartesso neighborhood was once a poster property for the Valley's zombie subdivisions. Nowadays, homes are being set up in all directions, changing the character of the neighborhood.

"We're gonna miss the view," said Heather Snider, who lives in the subdivision. "We had a nice view of the White Tanks, so we're going to miss that, but my kids will have someone to play with, so that’ll be a nice change."

As for Estrella Vista, the subdivision is still showing few signs of life. A few for sale signs are up, but no plans have been submitted to the city. For Toye, that’s just fine, as she'll take a zombie subdivision over more people any day.

"I think we’re too close to each other, and we want to move farther away," said Toye.

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