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A Grove growing in the desert
Open farm land transforms into Toll Brothers master plan
It’s hard to believe that some Surprise farmland on the west side of town will become a city within its own city over the next year.
Then again, the way that part of Surprise is expected to grow over the next few years, it shouldn’t be too much of a shocker.
“This is huge for us,” Surprise City Councilman Patrick Duffy said. “It’s finally that Prasada plan we saw 12 years ago. This is a big deal.”
The big deal Mr. Duffy is referring to is a big housing project that is bringing a subdivision unlike any other in Surprise.
Toll Brothers officially held its grand opening Jan. 25 and 26 for its Sterling Grove development — between Cactus Road and Peoria Avenue to the north and south, and 175th Avenue and Cotton Lane to the west and east — after three weeks of presales.
Over the next eight years, the development is expected to bring 4,500 to 5,000 new residents as 2,200 homes are planned this decade.
Homebuyer options include eight luxury home collections and 31 home designs. Sizes range from 1,421 to 4,047 square feet, with prices set between $350,000 to more than a half-million dollars.
But more impressively, the builder hopes the amenities it’s planning — including a 35,000-square-foot clubhouse, a Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf course, three pools, tennis and pickleball courts, and walking trail area — will make it a hit with homebuyers, who could be moving in as soon as August.
“We made it to where once you’re in the gate, you’ll feel comfortable to do everything and anything here,” said Kevin Rosinski, senior vice president for Toll Brothers.
From farm to fun
The company said it wanted to build in Surprise not only for the growth of the city, but more especially, the immediate area.
This summer’s opening of a new Costco Warehouse on Waddell Road near Loop 303, plus a new Abrazo community hospital on Loop 303 and Bell Road, are just two projects that sparked Toll Brothers’s excitement about coming to Surprise.
Sterling Grove is going up on land that used to be owned by the Mormon church, which it leased to farmers. In fact, GoogleEarth images still show nothing but farmland in that square mile.
But within the year, people will start moving in the luxury homes that are already getting rave reviews.
“I’m an open concept person when it comes to houses,” Mr. Duffy said. “You can tell walking in there why Toll is probably the best builder in Arizona.”
Toll Brothers designers were hoping to capitalize on the popularity of living in the Phoenix Arcadia and Biltmore areas and its five historic neighborhoods.
“People like living there because of the grass and the trees and the architecture,” Mr. Rosinski said. “So, we wanted to bring the grass, trees and architecture here.”
Sterling Grove is trying to accomplish two things: offering up resort-style living, while also resembling what Mr. Rosinski calls, “hometown Americana.”
He wants homebuyers to think of the courtyard scenes in the popular 1980s-time travel movie “Back to the Future.”
“What we really wanted to do was offer resort lifestyle luxury community that maybe the West Valley is sort of seeing, but we wanted to do something that nobody has really seen with the amount of detail and amenities we put in,” Mr. Rosinski said.
It will feature two main entries, including a replica of a farmhouse drivers will pass at the gated entry.
“We wanted to feel that it could have been the original farmhouse on the site,” Mr. Rosinski said. “The architecture looks like it could have been built in the ’30s, ’40s or ’50s.
At the entry off of Cactus Road, residents will meet a community ambassador working the gate, then drive up to the country club.
Raise the roof
Added touches include raising up the clubhouse, which includes the fitness center, to facilitate nature.
“We perched it up 12 feet so you see nothing but amazing views when you’re in the club,” Mr. Rosinski said.
The clubhouse will be built in two phases with the second phase about four years down the line. But the main features inside, such as the golf clubhouse and the fitness center, will be among the first finished.
“You can do everything and anything you want Day 1,” Mr. Rosinski said about the January 2021 opening date.
The homebuilders broke up the clubhouse into three sections and included three pools — a fitness lap pool, a resort/lifestyle pool and a tranquil pool. The tranquil pool sits on the edge of a 15-foot drop, which gives the negative edge illusion.
“It’s kind of on its own little peninsula here with an amazing view of the White Tanks,” Mr. Rosinski said.
The pool areas include a bar, where people can use to order food and drinks from the water, or golfers can take a break from playing between holes 6 and 7.
Stay and Plays
Toll Brothers has built 10 cottages in the complex called “Stay and Plays” that give potential homebuyers a chance to experience all the amenities of the community.
The 1,000-square-foot units are designed like hotel suites with a master bedroom and kitchen included.
“I think a lot of people want to experience things before they buy it,” Mr. Rosinski said. “You can do that walking through the model park. But until you live there and stay overnight you may not know exactly what it’s like.”
Once the homes are all sold out in a few years, the cottages will be turned into a mini hotel for the club.
“If you may have bought a smaller house, you can still have friends and family coming into town, and instead of saying, ‘Hey, there’s a Marriott over there,’ you can rent one of these for your guests,” Mr. Rosinski said.
The cottages are near the tennis and pickleball courts, which included a stadium court for each. Those courts are sunken in with a few rows of grass seating around it.
Mr. Rosinski said that will allow residents to form club teams if they choose with the ability to hold home games.
“Pickleball is huge right now,” Mr. Rosinski said. “It’s less impact and less movement on the body, so they’re saying it’s good no matter what age you are. You’re playing ping pong standing on top of the table. It’s just a different sport.”
Of course it is
The green space between the golf course and walkways are one of the early selling features of the development.
The Nicklaus-designed private golf facility is the first golf course in the West Valley in nearly a decade, and it’s planned to be a challenge, even for the seasoned golfer.
“They way I play golf, I probably won’t come off that course in a good mood,” Mr. Duffy joked.
There is also an 18-hole putting course and a driving range, all connected together.
There are three walking loops to choose from. A small loop is 1.2 miles long, a loop around the “town square” in the middle of the development is four miles long, and the length of the walkable golf cart path is 6.2 miles.
“I don’t know of any other golf course that invites people on their path,” Mr. Rosinski said. “Usually they put up signs that say, ‘Golfers only. Stay away!” We wanted the community to be able to use everything, even if they aren’t a golfer.”
One-acre cornerstone parks are planned for each corner of the square in the middle of the development. Houses are also designed to be no more than five away from a trail entrance.
“Residents only use what is convenient, so we tried to make it as convenient as possible for connectivity and engaging with your neighbors and engaging with the entire community,” Mr. Rosinski said.
Editor’s Note: Jason Stone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit yourvalley.net.